My initial diagnosis

Or what I've got and how I found out about it

I have metastatic invasive ductal carcinoma (DCIS) of the left breast with multiple pulmonary metastasis, Grade 3, ER++, HER2+++.

For explanations of the terms above:

  • DCIS?  click here
  • Multiple pulmonary metastasis??  click here
  • Grade 3?  click here
  • ER++?  click here
  • HER2+++?  click here

Anyway, here's how I discovered that something was wrong and what happened next:

December 2011

Until the end of 2011 I had no idea that anything was wrong.  Just before Christmas I awoke one night with a sharp pain in my left breast.  In the morning I saw that the nipple has become completely flat. 

January 2012

The pain went but the nipple remained flattened so, early in the New Year, I went to see my GP.  She located a lump high on the breast, so high in fact that I had not noticed it (despite checking regularly) as I thought it was simply part of my collar bone.

The GP referred me to the local hospital’s Breast Clinic where I was seen about ten days later.  During this time I had tried to remain as calm and optimistic as possible but, once at the Breast Clinic it became fairly obvious that the doctors were concerned.  Thankfully, the Breast Clinic operated a ‘one stop shop’ so investigations were immediate.  I was examined, had mammograms, ultrasound and biopsies of the breast and left armpit.  Although the appointment to discuss the results was a week later I was warned on leaving the clinic that I probably did have breast cancer.

It was no surprise therefore, a week later, to be informed that I had breast cancer, although learning that I would need a full mastectomy and chemotherapy was quite a shock.  Arrangements were made for me to have a CT scan to check for cancer spread.

February 2012

In February 2012 the CT scan results came in and I was told that the cancer had spread.  I had multiple lesions in both lungs.  This meant I had metastatic breast cancer.  Metastatic breast cancer  (also know as advanced breast cancer, secondary breast cancer or stage IV breast cancer is incurable.