Told she was too young when she asked for a mammogram in her 40s, Sianne’s undiagnosed cancer kept spreading.
My name is Sianne. I’m 45 and I never thought that at this age I would be using a wheelchair and a walker. My troubles started on a family trip to Walt Disney World in November 2018. I started to have back pain. No matter what treatment I did, the pain continued to worsen. Eventually, I had to go off work as I was in so much pain by the end of my shift as a nurse I could barely walk and could only stand for short periods.
I didn’t even begin to think that it could be cancer until one day I was reading an article about a lady who had metastatic breast cancer and she didn’t know it aside from having back pain. I went to check my breasts and in my left breast I found a lump and thought “oh shit”. Shortly thereafter in quick succession I had a mammogram, breast ultrasound and then biopsy. Things were going nowhere fast, so my parents arranged for me to have a private MRI which ended up showing that I had metastases throughout my bones, in my liver and lymph nodes.
I spent a month and a half in hospital. I had surgery to put rods in both of my femurs. I had radiation to my pelvis and femurs and 6 rounds of chemotherapy. I’m currently on targeted IV therapy every 3 weeks for the rest of my life. I have 3 teenagers; they are all adjusting to our “new normal.” I’m no longer able to work and although I am grateful that I have disability it is hard to lose my identity as a nurse. I plan on doing my best to stick around for my kids and to be there for them as best as I can.
What I would like other people to know is to please, please, please remember to check your breasts and continue to do breast self-exams. I went for a physical before my diagnosis before all of this happened and I recall asking for a mammogram and being told that I was “too young”. I now look back and wonder what might have been picked up if that mammogram had been done and maybe how would my life and my prognosis be different. So please, advocate for a mammogram, tell your GP that you want one and that you don’t care if the guidelines say you are too young your life may depend on this!