Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Jessica

Jessica in Stockholm, on a holiday with her friend. She smiles, wears sunglasses on her head and has a white summer dress and long wavy fair hair


Jessica, aged 31, shares her story of a Stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis and Surface Guided Radiation Treatment (SGRT)

How was your cancer diagnosed?
I found a lump on my breast in 2021. I was 29 and still breast feeding my son. I wasn’t worried but booked an appointment with the GP. It took a week and a half to get an appointment. I think it should have been sooner. I went to the breast clinic 2 weeks later. During the ultrasound, the consultant was training someone and I could hear them discussing what they could see. I knew then that it was cancer.

What treatment did you have?
I had six months of chemotherapy. A right breast mastectomy and full axillary node clearance. I had 15 sessions of SGRT (a type of radiotherapy that does not need tattoos to position the patient).

What was your experience of radiotherapy?
It was not traumatic having SGRT, especially when you consider how awful a lot of cancer treatments are. It was quite straightforward.

I was expecting tattoos but I just needed a CT scan to mark out my position and then I was set up and ready to go which was great. I had 15 sessions and would lie down on the table and get into position. I think it was easier to get me in the right place than the treatment that needs tattoos.

I worried I would move out of the right range, but I did not.

Did you have any side effects? 
My skin did burn a bit, like a sunburn. I moisturised a lot. I was really tired and I had rib pain for a while.

What helped you cope with cancer?
The team that treated me was amazing. I looked forward to seeing them and got to know them well. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about them!

I had to wait 10 days for the diagnosis to be confirmed, over Christmas. I focused on making it really magical for my little boy.

I had a counsellor at the hospital, and she explained a lot to me.

What did you find hard? 
The punch biopsy was very painful. The local anaesthetic did not work the first time and I screamed.

How are you now?
Unfortunately, the cancer had spread to my bones by the time I was diagnosed. It is in my shoulder, sternum, hip and spine.

Thankfully things are steady at the moment. I live by my four-month scans. I take chemotherapy and hormone medication.

Any advice for others?
I thought I’d been checking my breasts, but I had not done it carefully enough. I think I could have found it sooner. I am very keen for people to check themselves properly. It has to be once a month, following the proper guidelines.

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