#G I R L vs C A N C E R: MAMMOIRS OF INVASIVE DUCTAL BREAST CARCINOMA
THE WHOLE 2.8 CENTIMETERS
Photography by Jay McLaughlin
I’ve never been a big fan of my boobs. If you can even call them that. They’re more of a nod to a boob, a flabby-nipple-type situation, a goodwill gesture. I hate the way that my tummy protrudes further than them when I’ve had a large lunch and the fact I’ve never been successful in filling out a slip-dress.
So on the 31st August 2016 when following a biopsy a Dr uttered the words “I’m sorry, it’s not good news, it’s cancer” I was sure they were having a fucking laugh.
Surely this must be the universe’s idea of a cruel joke. Right? I mean firstly I’m thirty-bloody-one, far too young and full-of-fun to be dealing with this kind of shit, and secondly, how can I have breast cancer when I DON’T HAVE ANY BASTARD TITS?!?!
It all began at the back end of May, whilst in the throes of some ‘me time’ I grabbed my boobie and felt a rather large lump. I guess I should give a shout out to the folks at Ann Summers for this. Cheers guys. Convinced it was bound to be hormonal I cracked on with a crazy-fun summer, got myself off to Glastonbury and moved into my gorgeous new gaff. July rolled round and a bit bothered that this lump hadn’t buggered off yet I took myself over to the local walk-in for a feel up – “That’s definitely a lump, you’re young and have no family history so it’s likely to be a cyst but you’ll need to get it checked, your doctor will refer you”. Satisfied I was in a flap over nowt I headed to Tuscany for the most wonderful of weddings and registered with a new GP on my return. Again I was told not to worry but to be on the safe side lets get you off to the Breast Clinic. Five days later there I was chill AF having my ultrasound when the radiographer called over her consultant, my belly lurched as I watched their faces study the screen, my bum squeaked as she said “Lauren we want to biopsy this, best to be safe”. I was alone and caught totally off-guard but after a panicked phone call to my Mum biopsy me they bloody well did. And when the consultant recommended I bring someone with me to fetch my results the following week, I knew.
Exactly seven days later I heard the words that would change my world forever. I have breast cancer. Apparently a 2.8cm ‘Grade 3’ cancerous lump has set up residence in my right chesticle, without consent, and has sent my life as I know it into a tailspin. Which is funny really as I’ve had bigger things in me and not felt a thing – am I right ladies?!?!
As you can imagine I went zero-to-Danny-Dyer pretty lively. Said fuck a world record amount of times as Mother Mahon beckoned my brother into the room, announcing ever so inconspicuously to the entire corridor “Ryan, come here, cancer” . You’ve gotta LOL.
Between sobs and stunned silence there were moments of pure unadulterated anger that this cancerous little C*NT had found it’s way into my body. But mostly there were tears. And dramatic declarations such as “but I’ve not even met anyone yet, I want to fall in love and have a family” to which the kind consultant scoffed and simply stated “of course you will”.
Then I did what any woman in her right mind would do. I went straight to the pub for prosecco.
What followed were hands down the worst two weeks of my entire life.
Because before you have cancer you think that the finding out you have cancer is the worst thing in the world right? Wrong. It’s finding out you have cancer but not knowing exactly what the little prick is up to. What organs it might have permeated and if, to be quite blunt about it, you’re going to pop your clogs.
I was convinced I was going to die. Of course I was. As is everyone one who is diagnosed with cancer. It’s the cloak of invincibility being ripped from your neck like Madonna at the Brits and being forced to look into the mirror of your own mortality. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I felt what can only be described as bereft. My heart was broken. The cancer community refer to this period as ‘Scanxiety’. It’s terrifying. And it’s totally normal.
So came the biopsies, mammograms (which was more of a nippogram due to my tiny tatas) and ALL of the staging scans too. There was the MRI Scan whereby I had to lay face down with my lady lumps hanging between two holes – twas okay though, they played breast-cancer-beating Kylie Minogue for the duration – good omen in my book. Next up was the CT Scan that requires you to consume a litre of what can only described as dentist water prior to the procedure. It also requires a dye to be released into your bloodstream that makes your fanny feel a-flame. Which was nice.
Finally, and most epicly, the Bone Scan where a radiologist comes at you with a metal-cased syringe, X-Men style, and pumps you with radioactive isotopes. I kid you not I popped into Sainos afterwards and set off the security alarms.
My scans revealed a positive prognosis. We got this bad boy early. It’s a Primary Cancer with no sign it has spread and the little mug hadn’t made it to my lymph nodes. It also unveiled that my titty tumour tested positive for Hormone Receptors and HER2 Receptors which means that although I’ll have to endure the cocksucker that is chemotherapy my cancer responds well to both Hormonal + Targeted Therapies too. BOSH. Oh and I’ve only gone and been taken on as a patient at The Royal Marsden haven’t I! In short guys, I got this.
As I’m young and fighting-fit my oncology team are throwing the chemo book at me so to speak. My bod is currently being nuked with some of the strongest drugs out here – namely EC aka The Red Devil – in a bid to shrink this bastard and save the boob. Not that there’s much to save but I’ve hardly got anything on the rest of me to reconstruct a new one. And I’ll be damned if they even think about taking away from my fine behind fam.
As many of you know I’ve been sharing the little nuances of my cancer crusade over on Instagram under the hashtag #GirlvsCancer. In general I’m a little positive mofo who is doing her bloody best to bend to the shape of this shitty experience without breaking. But that’s a hard thing to do when the media conditions us to panic, conveying cancer as this terrifying thing that kills everything in its wake. I mean I get it, they need money and fear produces bare P (pennies for those not in the know), but what about us who are trying to process this game-changing diagnosis? Or those who have symptoms but as a result of this scaremongering are too terrified to get checked out? Yep 1 in 2 people get cancer in their lives but 1 in 2 people don’t die, there’d be nobody fucking left!
My aim is to share the tales of my treatment in an attempt to tackle the cancer taboo and help those, who like me, have been dealt the C Bomb and are not really sure how to feel their way through it. Because we will. Get through it I mean. Of that I have no sodding doubt. What I’d also like is for my miniature space on’t interweb to empower my peers. Encourage peeps to take responsibility for their bodies. Know them like you know all the lyrics to Drake’s Hotline Bling my loves, because by being in tune with yourself you’ll notice when something is off, when something is in need of checking out. Early detection of any cancer saves lives. Fact. And if I can boss this than you lot can too.
Right now off you pop to grab your boobs, balls or any other bits in need of attention. Not sure what you’re looking for? The links below will help you out.
Until next time… GOOD VIBES ONLY.