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Breast Cancer in Your 20s

By Tabby Duff


I guess it makes sense to just start from the beginning – from the moment I found a lump to today: one week on since being told the words no-one ever wants to hear, “I’m really sorry, it’s cancer.”

October 2020 I’d woken up late on a Sunday morning with a slight wine hangover, but in one of those really positive, how-great-is-life moods. As I lay there basking in my naïve, happy little state, I suddenly felt some sort of twinge in my right boob. Not too sure what this feeling was, I went to touch it just to see what it was all about. And that’s when I felt a lump. A marble-sized, rock-solid little thing that seemed to have set up camp in my boob overnight. Now, I’m rather ashamed to admit I wasn’t checking my

boobs as often as I should have (please don’t make that same mistake), but I truly

believe that twinge was my body’s way of telling me I really needed to check. I could say I remained calm and collected upon this discovery but that would be a total lie. I am a MASSIVE hypochondriac. Seriously, even the slightest sniffle sends me into the pits of WebMD hell. So instead of my usual Sunday morning ritual of binging Gilmore Girls with a bowl of Aldi’s own Crunchy Nut, I was on the phone to my mum in tears. Next thing you know she and my dad were driving up to Manchester to take me out for lunch and try to calm me down. I'm such a bloody drama queen. Luckily, the next day I managed to get an appointment with my GP. A quick look and feel, and she told me it was most likely nothing to worry about – I’m only 26 and have no family history of breast cancer – but she’d refer me to the breast clinic anyway just to make sure.

2 Weeks Later My boyfriend took me to the breast clinic after work. For some reason (perhaps deep down my gut knew what was coming), I was nervous – I don’t think I uttered a word to him the entire journey. But after initially seeing the consultant, I was straight onto WhatsApp telling him everything was fine. I believe my exact words were, “good news – the consultant says it’s a benign lump, but we’re just doing a few scans to make sure.” Not-so-spoiler alert: it was not good news. That same evening I ended up having an ultrasound and a fine needle aspiration biopsy. Now, prior to this experience I thought I had a fairly high pain threshold – I’d sat through two tattoos, microblading, and numerous piercings including my nipple – but WOW this really hurt. I cried many, many tears. I almost passed out on the examination table. Fairly embarrassing. I just remember the drive back home, clutching my poor, battered boob and sobbing in pain. Did I mention I’m dramatic? ...Another 2 Weeks Later Finally, the day arrived after weeks of playing the waiting game. At last I’d find out what was going on with my boobies! But alas. My results were inconclusive. I needed to do another biopsy. Fan-bloody-tastic. 1 More Week Later This time, I had a core needle biopsy under local anesthetic (thank the lord). With no aching boob, and no big fat *CANCER ALERT* flashing up on the system, I left the appointment feeling more confident than ever that this was just a cyst or something. Seriously, I’d convinced myself at this point that this was all just precautionary. They did this to everyone in their 20s. I had absolutely nothing to worry about. My family and friends I’d confided in had said the same. Who gets breast cancer at 26? Well, me, apparently. On 10th November 2020 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was given the news completely alone (thanks COVID) and all I remember next is crying, begging for my mum to be let in the room, and holding on to her until it was time to go home. Today Since that day, it’s been an emotional rollercoaster – and that’s putting it extremely mildly. I’ve been upset; sad for my family, friends, and boyfriend for what I’m about to put them through. I’ve felt guilty that it’s my body and I’ve somehow allowed for this to happen. I’ve been so bloody angry – how dare my body do this to me? I’ve treated her so well for 26 years, and this is how she repays me?! But I’ve made it through, with only a few minor breakdowns and HOLY F*** AM I GONNA DIE moments in tow. I’ve had to make huge decisions about my future which I’d never even considered this time last month. I’ve moved back home with my parents. I’ve discussed my fertility options. I’ve told friends, family members, and colleagues about my diagnosis. So yeah, my life has completely turned upside down in a very short space of time. But honestly, I feel good. I feel overwhelmed with love, positivity and good vibes. Everyone has been supportive and amazing. And with each day and every hospital visit, I’m one step closer to beating this thing.

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