‘I’ve breast cancer and had mastectomy at 34 – I refuse to see it as negative’

Trina was a hugely successful kickboxer and devoted mum to her son, Corey, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer aged just 34.

She had previously competed in the world championships and also alongside her son in tournaments in the UK and Ireland.

Trina, from Wexford in Ireland, waspart of the WKC Irish Kickboxing Team.

But following a lumpectomy to rid her of her breast cancer, she was told it had been unsuccessful and that she would need a mastectomy.

Trina has now had the surgery and refuses to see it as a negative thing.

In fact, she hopes it will be the start of the rest of her life.

Here she tells her amazingly brave story.

My name is Trina. I’m 34, I have an 11 year old son Corey and last week I had underwent a mastectomy, not something I ever thought would be happening to me.

In the beginning of October, I was diagnosed with breast cancer – Stage 2 Invasive Ductal and Lobular – the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes in my arm pit.

Earlier this year I underwent a lumpectomy and I was so positive that was it for me on the surgery side of things and was looking forward to ( as much as you can look forward to) radiotherapy starting.

Unfortunately, it wasnt to be.

It took me about a week to get over the shock of the news that my lumpectomy wasnt successful.

It also took me about a week to say out loud that I would choose to go down the mastectomy route.

To admit it to myself, even though I knew deep down its what I needed to do.

I didn't talk to anyone about the decision in that week, I didnt want to discuss it, I needed to be alone and just process it, let it sink in, come to terms with it, deal with it and lastly accept it.

Once I accepted it, I felt weirdly at peace.

Everyone expected me to fall to pieces the night before, the morning of, and while I didnt get much sleep the night before I was booked in, I felt strangely calm as I hugged my Dad goodbye in the early hours of Wednesday morning 22nd of May 2019.

Calm, but also eager to get going, almost like I had a flight to catch, I wanted everything to happen super fast and wasnt impressed at the thoughts of having to wait hours to be operated on again.

We arrived at hospital , the usual rigmoroll of queing up, checking all the details they have on you, signing your life away and being led to your bed

“Luckily” I got given my own room off the usual day ward so I felt super important.

I'm told its just the luck of the draw, secretly, I think me, man and my sister were a bit too giddy last time so they thought might be best to isolate us away from the others. Either way, it was a welcome change.

My stomach litterly falling out of my butt hole everytime someone walked by the room, or someone said my name (which was a fair few times).

My breast care nurse came in for a chat which is always nice, she has the ability to normalise things, put everyone at ease and we always have a bit of a giggle with her even in a situation so serious. I think thats just my way of coping.

Around 1.30 the door opened and the nurse told us ” We will be coming for you in a few minutes”.

Reality hit. This was it. I felt the energy in the room change.

Nervous anxious energy and strangely excited, the excited part from me.

It so weird the feellings you feel at those moments but yes, I was excited, excited for my lovely sleep, excited for my tea and toast, excited to be rid of Larry the lump for good this time.

I think the nervous and anxious energies were more from my Mam and Sister, I could see it in there faces, suddenly very serious.

We said our goodbyes, hugged my Mam, hugged my sister and she said “Are you not going to cry?”

Tears filling her own eyes, I simply said ” No, why, are you?”..

She cried more than I did. Off I went chatting to the nurse on the walk to theatre.

Once I was put on my trolley, my nerves started, I was shaking uncontrollably at this time, mostly at the thoughts of getting the line put in.

You would think after 11 tattoos, and 8 months of constant needles that I would be used to this part but it just gets harder every time.

They offered me gas. I declined, they insisted as my anxiety and shaking was making it hard for them to get a vein.

The mask went over my face with the gas and almost instantly my whole body relaxed, the shaking stopped and I was calm.

The line went in and that was that. Off I went to the land of nod.

I must have been crying in my sleep because I woke up feeling dried tears on the side of my face.

That was my first thought in recovery. My next thought was I am so so snug and cosy.

My next was ” I made the right choice”. I smiled under my oxegen mask.

The next thing I remember is being back on the ward and crying “Mam, it hurts”.

The pain of having a mastectomy, isnt like anything I can refer back to. I cant say its like a sprained ankle, or a paper cut.

Theres nothing I can compare it to, but dont let that scare you. That doesnt mean its unmanageable. I have had worse pain.

My pain levels didnt go beyond a seven or an eight at a push. You are well medicated.

Always take pain meds when they offer them, even if you dont need them.

Dont let breakthrough pain come on you, you are already going through enough without having to try to catch up on pain relief.

I needed to be helped to sit up, helped to the side of the bed, I had to be dressed by my nurse and half carried to the toilet.

And thats ok, I had just had major surgery, was fully still under the influence of the drugs but a girl gotta pee!

The morning after my op, the physio came round to give exercises, yes you start to exercise less than 12 hours post op.

Yes, you feel like you are being punished for something.

Yes, its bloody hard and yes you might only be able to move an inch, but the next time you will move two inches and eventually, you will fully understand this part of recovery is.

Your mind is what will hold you back more than the pain. Its getting easier. Everything DOES get easier.

I was so anxious about going home, why? First off, I had my drains still attached to me.

I was terrified of them. My fears werent warrented. I eventually forgot I had the drains in and occassionally walked off forgetting to attach the bag to myself.

They aren't as scary as you think. Think of it as making a fashion statement.

But I was also anxious because I was so afraid that something was going to go wrong, I was leaving my safe little bubble of nurses checking me every hour offering me drugs every few hours and only a push of a button away if I needed them.

But what was the worst that could go wrong? The drain comes out? …. so what… Put a plaster over it.

I get a temperature or an infection? …. So I go to Caredoc if its out of hours or call my breast care nurse if during the day.

The wound opens? … Same as above.

My mind was crippling me more than my actual being.

I decided I would go home after two nights.

I got home Friday afternoon, I slept pretty much the entire weekend. When I sleep I dont feel pain.

I just listened to what my body wanted. Sometimes it wanted pizza, sometimes it just wanted sleep.

I don't remember a lot of things while in hospital, the visitors I've had at home because the brain fog from the drugs that have had me permanently drunk since surgery is unreal.

But I know you were here, and I am thankful for you coming to see me.

Here I am nearly two weeks out of surgery and feeling HALF normal.

In great form, feeling super positive, getting my movement back and feeling confident enough to go back to my own house and start getting my life back to my new normal.

Tomorrow brings a new appointment, new worries, new questions, new experiences but that is tomorrow, and I will deal with that when it comes

The word mastectomy might seem like the end of your world, but its really the start of your new life.

I refuse to look at my mastectomy as a negative experience, and while, I definitely cried more times in my recovery from this than I did my entire Chemotherapy experience, I still have my life to look forward to and I cant wait to show my scar and wear it with pride, and continue doing what I am doing and raise awareness of breast cancer in younger women (and men).

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