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In 2019, 56-year-old Ipswich resident Terri Rosevear felt a lump in her breast and her heart sank. The previous year she had found a lump and, after a biopsy, it had been found to be benign, but to find another lump again so soon was a concern.
Terri visited her GP who organised a biopsy under mammogram and when the results came in Terri was given the news that no woman wants to hear—this time the lump was malignant. She was referred to a breast surgeon and had the lump removed followed by four weeks of radiation treatment and daily Tamoxifen medication along with six monthly check-ups.
“I wasn’t expecting it. I hadn’t felt any symptoms, no lumps, no pain, no discharge,” Terri said.
“The radiation treatment didn’t hurt at the time but it left my skin so raw and red and I felt so fatigued, but I was grateful I didn’t have to go through chemotherapy, and I had a relatively short recovery period compared to many others.”
Running a family day care from home, Terri was able to continue working though her treatment by finishing her day a little earlier than usual to allow her time to go to her hospital appointments in the late afternoon.
“I would wake up feeling pretty good, but by the afternoon I’d feel very fatigued.”
“I had my radiation at Mater Private Hospital Springfield and that was just so helpful having care close to home and not having to travel into Brisbane. It allowed me to fit in my appointments around my work.”
Unfortunately, in 2021 whilst having a regular check-up, another suspicious lump was found. A further biopsy was taken and Terri’s worst fears were confirmed when her doctor told her this lump was also malignant.
“I was lucky that there was no spread, so I didn’t need radiation or chemotherapy which was a relief, but I would have done whatever I needed to do,” Terri said.
Terri’s doctor recommended a mastectomy, given this was the second recurrence in the same breast, and in early September 2021 Terri was admitted to Mater Private Hospital Brisbane for her operation.
“Having the mastectomy has been quite confronting,” Terri said.
“I’ve never not worn a bra so to suddenly see nothing is really hard to come to terms with.
“I did have a consultation with a plastic surgeon to talk through breast implants, but I have decided to wear prosthetics for the moment.
“For peace of mind, I am considering having a mastectomy on my other breast, to lessen my chances of getting breast cancer again.”
Terri’s husband and son have supported her throughout along with the specialist breast care team at Mater.
“My husband tried to be strong and he handled it well until he had to tell his boss at work and he teared up. My son has found the second time around really hard. The waiting is so hard. Waiting between appointments and tests to hear the outcome and for family members they are the ones doing all the waiting.”
Mater’s multi-disciplinary team includes, breast surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, breast care nurses, allied health professionals, dietitians, plastic surgeons, psychiatrists, psychologists and medical imaging.
“The team at Mater has been so supportive. My breast care nurse is Ash Mondolo who I have been seeing since 2019. She is an absolute wealth of knowledge and puts you in touch with all the right people. I appreciate having all that information and knowledge to draw upon.”
Terri has a family history of breast cancer in her aunt on her mother’s side but has also undertaken genetic testing which didn’t show any gene mutation for breast cancer.
“I guess my message would be to always be vigilant. I didn’t have any signs or symptoms and no lumps that I could feel.”
“It’s important to attend for regular mammograms and listen to your body. If you have any concerns at all, visit your GP straight away.”
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