Today we have Kyla’s breast cancer survival story. Kyla’s story is quite extraordinary in that she was 25 years old when diagnosed with cancer just before she was about to have a baby. Kyla is doing well today and is a student as well as a great Mum. There are many lessons to learn from Kyla’s story, particularly in how long it took to diagnose the breast cancer. Thanks Kyla for sharing your special story and your poem. We wish you and your family all the best.
It’s funny how as we progress through life, we look to our future and plan on how we expect to spend the next 1, 2, 5 even 10-20 years… At the ripe old age of 25, my one year plan was to build our first home on our recently purchased block (a HUGE step in any relationship). My two year plan was to hopefully be asked that magical question – to be asked if I would marry Ben, which of course would then fill up my next 3-4 year plan of getting married. So naturally my five year plan was to start a family and enjoy all the riches that come from being a parent. The 10-20 year plan has and will always be to grow old gracefully and have a bloody good time doing it! Little did I know that while I was living life like any other normal 25 year old, just having an all round great time, that the universe had a completely different life path in mind for me!
The first shock came in October 2009; somehow I had fallen pregnant while on the pill. At first I cried, not because I didn’t want a baby but because I didn’t feel ready. I could hardly look after myself let alone a tiny human who is solely dependent on me! I couldn’t comprehend how this happened.
My darling Ben just looked at me and said “hey everything happens for a reason right?” (these words will resonate with me for the rest of my life) and “we had the right idea; we are just doing things in the wrong order. Don’t worry we can do this” and that was it!
We started our journey to parenthood! So my life plan had now become try to learn as much as I can about being a good parent and pregnancy and lets get this house finished before this kid gets here! We began to do what we always do in life and started to take it in our strides.
Things were progressing normally; we had all the highs and lows of any other pregnancy. However, I noticed a hard lump in my now HUGE boobs at around the 4 month mark. It was pretty decent in size, hence why I noticed it. It was a little bit irritating and sore but nothing to write home about.
I mentioned it at a couple of visits to the midwives – who told me not to worry its probably just mastitis and that I was far too young for it to be anything else. I started to take panadol to relieve the sharp shooting paints and a constant ache. “Change your bra” one midwife told me – I did which helped me somewhat not at all.
Eight Months into Pregnancy
By the 8 month mark I noticed the lump was growing and upped my intake of panadol. Ben kept telling me I should go to the doctor as he didn’t like me in pain. I believed I was fine and to be honest couldn’t be assed going to the doctor! By nine months, I knew I had to go to the doctor. I went to a local medical centre to a doctor who referred me for an ultra sound. She told me it would be nothing as I was far too young for it to be anything serious.
The scan showed a large black mass… the report stated that “it could be something sinister” and to refer back to my doctor. So I did. She read the report and said – nothing to worry about probably just mastitis. Here, have some antibiotics! She then told me to just talk to my midwife about the lump.
When I did this, the midwife was furious! She rang up the doctor immediately and told her she should be treating me like ANY OTHER woman who came to you with a lump in her breast and should not be palming me off to the midwifes! They argued some more and they agreed that I would go back to see her again. Again she told me it was nothing and gave me more antibiotics. Looking back now that doctor never once asked me to remove my shirt so she could examine me. My life would have been significantly different if she had of!
Upon advice from my midwife, I had put my breast pump on to try and ‘clear the blockage’ as instructed by the doctor. Only to find that my relatively small lump within the space of three days blew out to a huge lump almost the size of my entire breast! I also noticed there was a second lump by my nipple and another under my arm
This shit just got real! Ben had had enough; he refused to go back to the medical centre doctor and wasn’t even going to waste time seeing the midwives. He took me straight to my GP Dr Heale, I told her my symptoms and concerns then explained the predicament so far. She immediately sat bolt upright in her chair and instructed me to remove my shirt and lift my arms above my head. I didn’t even need to hear the words from her mouth to know this was really bad, the look on her face said it all. She sent me straight to radiology for a scan and instructed me to return to her after the results.
During the scan I could see it was really bad… a HUGE black mass with the other two. The lady doing the scan was very quiet. She only really spoke to tell me she was going to get the Radiologist. My heart was pounding in my ears and panic set in.
I started to feel numb as the radiologist explained she would be doing a biopsy. I couldn’t stop thinking about my baby and what would happen to her? And to Ben? I remember being so petrified of the biopsy; there were so many needles and vials! Meanwhile Ben sat quietly out in the waiting room, completely unaware of the seriousness of what was about to happen in our lives. By the time I reached the waiting room, I couldn’t contain my fear anymore, and the second I saw Ben, I burst into tears and started sobbing uncontrollably in the middle of the waiting room in front of everyone!
I remember them racing to me and taking me aside to a small room; the nurse asked “is it the pain?” I was too embarrassed to tell her no, I was just absolutely petrified and scared of dying! So told her yes it hurts so much. She gave me some panadol. I pulled my shit together and we were off again. Ben had never seen me like that so he knew it was bad. I knew he didn’t know what to say or do, so I was happy for the silence in the car
By the time we had driven back to Dr Heale, the diagnosis was in. I knew in my heart what she was about to say but that didn’t stop me bursting into tears again and almost falling onto the floor with shock. It was surprisingly awkward, Dr Heale obviously having told many a patient that she had breast cancer, gave no reassuring words such as “its ok you will be alright” or “I’m so sorry”. She sat there very serious and told me what was to happen next. Looking back I realized that I liked her approach. No feeling sorry for me – just telling me what I needed to do now in order to survive.
I am so grateful that I had Ben there every step of the way absorbing all the information for me to begin with as I could not focus through the fog that had just filled the space where my brain used to be. Ben asked all the important questions like timeframes, side effects and treatment option. Me? I just said “is my baby ok though? Will my hair fall out? Will it grow back? Am I going to die? Will they have to cut my boob off? And are you sure my baby is ok?”
On Monday June 7th 2010 I was given my formal diagnosis of Stage 3 Ductal carcinoma in situ breast cancer with one known nodal involvement. The initial tumour had reached a size of 10x6cm with a second tumour that was 2cm and the node in my armpit was now 3×1.5cm in size.The doctors didn’t want to waste any more time waiting for treatment and asked if I would like to be induced. I broke down into tears (again!) and managed to fumble the words to the doctor “can you please just cut her out? I don’t have the strength to push, I just can’t do it”.
On Friday the 11th of June we were to become parents and almost immediately after that I was to become a chemo kid for the next 9 months. Friday 11th of June became a pivotal moment in my life. Words can never describe that day and what a powerful effect it had on my life. I know all mothers feel what I felt that day, the overwhelming sense of love and joy from meeting your beautiful baby. But what I also felt was that for the first time in my life was that my life was no longer just about me. My existence was no longer meaningless. I felt like every other event in my life was just preparation for this moment and from this moment on. My life’s purpose was to see this child into adulthood. I needed to protect her, teach her and most of all love her, and to do this I needed to be alive! As I lay there looking at the ceiling while they stitched my guts back up, I listened to her cry and cherished the moment. As soon as Ben came over with her in his arms – I promised myself that NOTHING would take this moment away from me and NOTHING not even the big C would rob my child of her mother!
Ben’s words “everything happens for a reason” came to mind. I believe in my heart that I fell pregnant for this very reason. Prior to Layla’s birth, I had no real feeling of worth. I’d never been grateful and I had little respect for myself and a lot of the time others. Boy oh boy was the next nine months going to give me a lesson or two in selflessness and humility! Not to mention morality! I was about to reevaluate my entire moral and value system – and this is what I believe is what needed to happen in order for me to survive. These things would not have happened if I had not have gotten pregnant nor if I had not gotten sick. So believe it or not – I am eternally grateful for this chapter of my life!
Kyla went on to have successful, effective but hugely difficult breast cancer treatment including chemotherapy and a radical mastectomy. In 2012, Kyla is doing really well. She says “I’m doing great 🙂 in the clear for 18 months now… I was the second youngest BC paitent ever at my hospital so was hard to find anyone who understood what I was going through, hence why when my friend showed me your website I was happy to help :)”.