10 months ago today, on Friday September 18th, I was in the shower getting ready for a night out in Hamburg, when I found a lump in my left breast.
I saw my GP at 8am on the Monday morning and was in hospital three days later. I had a consultation and was then sent upstairs for a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy. By the time I was back downstairs with the consultant, she had most of the results and told me it was highly likely I had breast cancer. I was in and out of the hospital in 90 minutes. That was my Thursday.
The next day, I went back to the UK for a wedding and caught up with a heap of friends, all saying ‘Haven’t seen you in ages! How are you? How’s Amsterdam?!‘ totally unaware of what was about to drop. I spent that weekend getting my head around it all, before returning to Amsterdam to have it confirmed that I had a triple negative tumour in my left breast.
Monday September 26th – that was diagnosis day.
On that day, I asked a lot of questions. Can I still work? Can I still travel? What treatment do I need? How long will is last? Will I be hospitalised? Do I have to go back to the UK? Ultimately, what I was getting at was ‘if I give this thing every ounce of strength, focus, and determination I have, how long do I need to put my life on hold?‘
I was told treatment would last 9-10 months.
I started treatment five weeks later (delayed two weeks at my request, so I could finish my F1 season in style at the US GP in Austin, Texas!) and had my first chemotherapy session on Monday October 31st.
Since then, I’ve had two rounds of chemotherapy, lumpectomy surgery, removal of six lymph nodes, and I’m now having daily radiotherapy.
My final treatment is scheduled for Wednesday July 26th 2017 – exactly 10 months since I was diagnosed; but 8 months, 4 weeks, 2 days after I started treatment.
We’re finishing 5 days ahead of plan – Boom!
In many ways, it’s been a life-changing journey. But all I can think of is getting back to normal. I will need to take tablets every day for the next five years, and have regular check-ups for the next ten years. But aside from that, there’s no reason why I can’t lead a normal life.
The tumour is gone. It hadn’t attached itself to the tissue around it. And the scar on my left breast is neat, tidy and will be my reminder of this great battle.
My lymph nodes were clear, confirming that the cancer hadn’t spread beyond my breast. The wound under my left arm is healing and is now giving me a focus for my training – to regain full movement in my left shoulder/chest and rebalance the strength across both shoulders.
The likelihood of my cancer coming back is 10-15%. But if 1 in 3 people will get it at some point in their lives, then Joe Public has a 33% chance, so I’m no worse off than anyone else reading this blog!
So on that note, I’m now just focusing on the next eight days, six treatments, then taking a long weekend to go to my first F1 race of the season – my ‘comeback’ race, perfectly timed!
And on Tuesday August 1st, life begins again… Bring. it. On.