What cancer were you diagnosed with?

Breast Cancer


What age were you diagnosed?

24


What has helped you to thrive?

Despite the gruelling treatment and long-lasting effects, a cancer diagnosis has brought me, I am at peace with myself when outdoors. Nature is my therapy and exploring places, old and new, allows me to reflect and feel revitalised. I am grateful for the amazing opportunities I have encountered since my diagnosis.  I feel lucky to have been opened up to a new world full of kindness, empathy & support.

Sharing my story and being part of incredible events to raise awareness and funds for those affected by cancer, is always such an honour. Not to mention meeting the most inspiring and courageous people along the way. Finding faith & support in an online community of incredible people has been the icing on the cake. I have a newfound humbleness, purpose & outlook on life and I suppose as odd as it may sound, it’s with “thanks” to a cancer diagnosis.


Laura's Story

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on 13th July 2015 aged 24, 2 months before my 25th Birthday.  I found a hard lump in my right breast whilst lying down and made an appointment to see my GP ASAP.  Thankfully, I was referred to the hospital for further investigations. I was sent for an ultrasound and had biopsies after the scan showed ill-defined borders on the suspect area. Every professional I met kept referring to my lump as a ‘fibroadenoma’ due to my age. It almost lulled me into a false sense of hope. But just six days later, I was diagnosed with a high-grade II breast cancer (Invasive Ductal Carcinoma with DCIS, HER2+, ER+, PR+). 

After numerous tests and scans, I underwent a lumpectomy. I was referred to Fertility specialists, as not only did I have a gruelling treatment plan ahead, but I also had to face the prospect that it may make me infertile. After initially being told it was too risky to preserve my fertility, I was referred for a second opinion. Thankfully it was deemed safe to proceed, and I successfully froze 9 eggs.

 I received my chemotherapy at a Young Persons Unit in Birmingham QE Hospital. I experienced multiple complications; I was admitted with severe neutropenic sepsis, after the first 3 x cycles. Upon each admission, I climbed the antibiotic spectrum, received multiple blood and platelet transfusions and on the third admission I ended up under the careful watch of the Critical Care Team. It’s safe to say I became well known across many departments! It was too risky to continue with my treatment plan, as it was making me so critically ill. I was told ‘they wanted to cure me, not kill me’. So, major revisions had to be made. I managed to proceed with a reduced dose of a different drug and moved onto a regime of 9 x weekly treatments.  

I received 17 cycles of Herceptin injections and then faced 21 x sessions of radiotherapy. It was exhausting commuting a 2 hour round trip to hospital every day, on top of the side effects. I am currently continuing hormone treatment, Tamoxifen, for 10+ years. With this, I experience menopausal symptoms; hot flushes, mood swings, night sweats, joint aches and pains. Not something I anticipated in my 20s but taking this drug helps to minimise my risk of recurrence so for me, this outweighs the side effects! 

Life hasn’t been plain sailing since completing my ‘active’ treatment. I have since been diagnosed with skin cancer and with CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome); and also discovered that I have a low-grade brain tumour. My skin cancer has thankfully been removed with no further issues, but my tumour continues to grow, albeit slowly. I will continue to be monitored - gamma knife or brain surgery may be on the cards in the not too distant future. 

Read more of Laura's story here