Inspiring Stories - Sian Slifkin
How can I forget October 12th 2013? The day I was diagnosed with a small breast cancer in my left breast. I’d been under the breast unit at my local hospital for ‘lumpy breasts’, for the previous ten years, so had always thought that if I was to get breast cancer, it would be caught quickly. I was booked in for an MRI and a lumpectomy. Maybe there would be chemo further down the line. Okay, I can cope with this, I can beat this breast cancer, is what I thought. I was 44 years old.
Trouble is, the MRI results came back 2 days before the lumpectomy & I was told that the cancer was larger than they first thought, the the oncologist from The Christie in Manchester wanted me to transfer there for chemo first, then a mastectomy. The goalposts were moving. I was sent for a CT and a bone scan prior to starting my regime of chemo. The results came back the day before I was due to start chemo. ‘The cancer has metastasised, it’s in your right pelvis and sternum’. What do I do now? How do I carry on? What is going to happen to my children? The thought that I could cope with the breast cancer vanished, to be replaced with despair, horror, anger and fright. All I could think of initially was, I’ve got this thing growing inside me, that I have absolutely no control of. Not only was I still dealing with my primary diagnosis, I now had to contend with the diagnosis of secondary breast cancer.
The team at The Christie were amazing. Straight away the specialist breast care nurse explained that whilst it was in my bones, they would find a treatment best suited to me, and try to keep it stable for as long as possible. Apparently this is as long as a piece of string! Could be a couple of years, could be 20, but if it stays stable, I should be around to see my daughters grow up. So I started on Docetaxol, Herceptin, Pertuzamab & Zometa. 18 weeks of chemo. Having been told that this chemo would definitely mean I would lose my hair, I opted to try the ‘cold cap’ treatment - aka ‘brain freeze’!! I’m so glad I did. Although my hair thinned, I still kept the majority of it & now it is more or less back to how it was before the treatment.
Since finishing chemo in February 2014, I have had a bilateral mastectomy, and pre-cancerous cells were found in my ‘good’ breast, so that was the right decision. I still have treatment every 3 weeks - the Herceptin, Pertuzamab and Zometa - take a daily dose of Tamoxifen, and have a monthly implant of Zoladex, which stops all my hormones, which fed the cancer. I also returned to work at the end of July 2014. Life goes on. Normal will never be the same again, but a new normal has been found, for the sake of my sanity! I’ve found that being positive throughout all of this has been the best thing I could have done. Of course, I have days where I still think ‘why me?’, but on the whole, I get on with life. I enjoy talking about my experiences, because I feel that if I can help someone else to get through the feelings and pain that I had, I have to do it. I wish someone had been there for me at the beginning of this journey, so if I can be there for other ladies, that is what I want to do.
Life is good! I have 2 wonderful daughters, and a rock of a husband. I know that I am fortunate in that I don’t suffer pain every day, I don’t look ill - most of the time, I don’t feel ill. I am part of a wonderful support network of ladies in the same position and the positivity of all of us is amazing. There is still life with SBC - and being positive means that it’s a life worth living.