Niki was diagnosed with breast cancer early enough to get the right treatment and avoid a mastectomy. With the support of her family, friends, and other breast cancer patients, she has never felt alone in her fight against the disease.
Hello, can you please introduce yourself in a few words?
My Name is Niki. I am 45 years old and I am married with two adult children.
How and when were you diagnosed with breast cancer?
I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer on January 13th. I had a virus a few months prior and began to not feel like myself. I thought it was due to the death of my dad. I finally found the lump myself in November. At first I thought it was just glands or a cyst. I went to my own Doctor and he said it was nothing to worry about and 99% benign, but that he would send me for a mammogram. The results after 2nd mammogram showed it to be cancerous. The lump was small enough and because of early detection, I would not need a mastectomy.
How did you react to the diagnosis?
I was devastated with the results and heartbroken for my husband, son and daughter. Having to tell my kids I needed chemo was crushing and definitely the hardest part of it all. They were so sad for me, but have been so supportive and strong. I am very positive now and have a whole different perspective on life…
What treatment have you been going through since the diagnosis? Has it been efficient?
My treatment was 8 sessions of chemo which I had over 16 week period, followed by a lumpectomy, followed by 4 weeks of radiation… I was very lucky with my treatment that I didn't suffer nausea and had very little side effects, the lumpectomy was very straight forward, and so was the radiation.
You said that coping with fear and anxiety is the hardest thing. Who or what helps you cope?
Coping with the anxiety, I have felt throughout, has been the hardest part of having cancer... the constant appointments, then waiting for results and lying in bed thinking the worst, but with the constant reassurance from my family and friends ( and learning to breathe it) made it a lot easier.
Have you ever asked for professional help (a psychologist, etc.)?
I went to see a therapist whom was also a cancer survivor for a couple of therapy sessions. I found it really helpful and I would highly recommend it.
Do you find it useful for breast cancer patients to join associations and other patient organizations, or is it easier for you to manage your condition on your own?
I found Carenity a huge help. To be able to send messages and ask advice from other people going through cancer was great. I never felt I was coping with breast cancer on my own.
What do you think about Pinktober (breast cancer awareness month) and all the events around it?
I think breast cancer awareness is amazing and vital for women and men because if breast cancer is caught early, it really makes a huge difference. I am a living example of that.
What would you advise other patients with breast cancer?
My advice for people with breast cancer is to talk to people, whether it’s family friends or on a website. Tell them your fears. I think once you talk about it or keep a diary, it makes dealing with cancer a little bit easier.