Te Aroha shares her cancer diary

Te Aroha Isaia, aged 24, was diagnosed with grade three inflammatory HER2+ breast cancer in December 2016. She began a blog to share her journey with her friends and family, and now she’s sharing thoughts from her blog with you.

Hello hello beautiful people.

Let me first start with introducing myself.

My name is Te Aroha Isaia I am 25 years old.

I am happily married, with 2 sweet little girls aged 5 and 3.

Unfortunately I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 24. Her 2 Positive.

I have no family (immediate) history of any cancers.

Since being diagnosed all I’ve wanted to do is raise awareness especially with our younger women.

Let me take you on my journey of how everything started.

I had a tingly weird feeling in my left breast one day. I passed it off as I’m probably due my monthly soon. I left it and tried not to think about it. I then realised that when I lay on my stomach it hurt my left breast and I would get sharp pains. I still passed it off as I’m due my monthly. A few days passed and after getting out of the shower I realised that my left breast was sore when I touched it. Once I actually examined it properly I could see a weird lump and my breast looked slightly disfigured and not the ‘’normal.’’ I asked my husband if it was normal and he suggested that I go and get a check-up done from the GP.

A week passed and the pain didn’t go away. I could see a huge difference between the left and right breast – the left was red, swollen and veiny. I then called my GP to book an appointment.

After the examination they thought it was mastitis. I was prescribed antibiotics and told to return in a week if the pain and swelling was still there.

A week passed and the pain and swelling hadn’t come down but had actually gotten worse. I left it for a few more days to ‘give the anti-biotics time to kick in.’ It didn’t do anything so back I went to my GP.

She examined my breast and her first reaction was “wow, that’s big.” She then referred me to go to the hospital straight away to be examined.

I made my way to the hospital with my husband. At this point I’m freaking out slightly thinking “ok, what is happening; what is this?!”

When I got to the hospital they were super busy so I had to wait. Once they did see me, they did all the tests: bloods, ECG, blood pressure etc. I then got admitted to a ward because radiology was closed for the day so I’d have to be seen in the morning. All I’d been told was that it looked like mastitis or an infection inside the breast tissue and that there may be some fluid inside which would need to be drained. I had to be nil by mouth till I could have an ultrasound on the breast.

I finally got seen the following morning. I was not thinking anything bad at this stage just more like if its fluid can they drain it already. I did not at all think about breast cancer at this point.

When I was getting the ultrasound done the lady put the probe on my breast. Her eyes opened so wide that it made me look at the screen. All I could see was a large black mass. She took various measurements then said “I’ll just go get someone.”

The lady was out of the room for a few minutes.

She returned with a doctor who asked to also examine me. His eyes also widened as he saw the large black mass on the screen. As he was taking measurements, I asked him if he could see any fluid there. “Not that I can see,’’ he responds, “no fluid.’’

I asked whether it be breast cancer. He reassured me that because of my age I shouldn’t be thinking about that; he’s 99.9 % sure it isn’t breast cancer.

I felt better but a little annoyed because they still had no idea what the black mass is.

I got told that there was nothing more they could do and that I would be referred to the breast clinic and be seen in 7 weeks’ time. I went back to my ward and a doctor came in to discharge me with another prescription for antibiotics.

I questioned him as to why I was being given more antibiotics when I’d already had them and they hadn’t done a thing at all. He then said that he would give me a different antibiotic so I thanked him and was discharged.

I went home feeling annoyed, angry and confused because I still had no answers.

We're looking for more guest writers like Te Aroha. If you love to write, and want to help others by sharing your experience, email Alice (alicer@bcf.org.nz)