ITW n°54: Aurélie - K fighter.
today the bubbly Aurélie, 30 years old, a mother passionate about her little boy, tells us with great contagious optimism about her fight against breast K, she has been in remission since last October! Yeah!
Aurélie also wants to raise awareness among young women about self-examination. "I would like this gesture to become natural, like when we put on a condom to protect ourselves from STDs. This small monthly gesture can save us..." / very very nice initiative, I invite you to look at Nalie 's blog for "inspiration "(in English) at the self-palpation, meeting every first of the month " feel it on the first " ;)
Let's get started:
Who are you ?
First name: Aurélie
Age: 30 years old
Profession: primary school teacher
Where do you live: Brussels, Belgium.
Why do you agree to share your story today?
I never hid. I spoke directly about my illness, precisely to warn young people who think they are not affected.
What are your qualities (in a few words)?
always in a good mood, with a smile on my face, I am dynamic and completely sassy.
What are your passions (in a few words)?
my son, who gave me the strength to keep my smile and my job.
What K (what cancer grade if you wish / stage ditto):
Hormone‐dependent breast cancer, grade 3, stage 3.
When was it discovered? How old were you ?
I was 29 years old. It took me 4 months for someone to listen to me and believe me when I said I had breast cancer. Without my persistence, I would be further into the disease. Unfortunately, doctors stick to their statistics and prefer to say that before the age of 30, without a family history, there is no risk of being affected.
Under what circumstances was it discovered?
by touching my breast first… Then, by feeling my armpit which was painful, two months later. So it was the lymph nodes that alerted me. I didn't get a diagnosis until 4 months after touching my breast.
If you are currently undergoing treatment, or in remission (for how long?)
the treatments have been completed since October 22, 2015. No doctor has said the word remission to me but I am. :)
Can you summarize your story for us as a (K fighter)?
In September 2014, I (re)touched a small chain of lymph nodes on my right breast. Having an appointment with the gynecologist for my annual appointment the following week, I don't worry about it. She felt my breasts and said nothing. Today, I regret not having referred her to this channel which worried me.
Two months later, I have pain in my armpit. I'm going to touch it by massaging myself a little and there, I touch a large lymph node. I panic. I'm going to see an on-call GP because it was a weekend. He will give me anti-inflammatories. On Monday, I was back at my GP to ask for a prescription for an ultrasound/Mammo.
The next day, I had these exams in a small center and came out with a light heart because the radiologist had seen nothing abnormal. There were ten lymph nodes in the breast and 4 in the armpit but for her, I was biting my nails so it must have been a bacteria entered via my fingers.
I didn't stay still.
A month later, I met a hematologist (after several other general practitioners, my gynecologist again, etc.) who prescribed a blood test but who did not seem concerned. It wasn't lymphoma. He also prescribed a CT scan for me to be sure.
On December 29, I had my scan which did not reveal anything abnormal. I still say that I am worried about my breast and the radiologist in this department tells me to return to breast cancer.
Luckily, I got a place on December 31st.
I was picked up an hour late. An assistant will examine me for half an hour and will respond in the negative when I ask her if it is cancer. As a matter of conscience, she goes to find her boss... who will tell me that she sees an abnormal asymmetry and that she would like to do a puncture in it AND in the lymph nodes. I cried all the tears in my body. The new year was going to be crap. To save time, even if the puncture turned out to be negative, she sent me for an MRI on January 2.
On January 5, 2015, accompanied by my mother, I learned that I had breast cancer.
I wanted to be taken care of quickly but I first had to pass the extension exams but also have embryos preserved. For two weeks, I injected myself every evening to stimulate my ovaries.
On January 16, Picardi and Picardo (from Picard) were fertilized. They will wait quietly for me in the freezer.
Chemotherapy followed, which was difficult... Then the operation with a lumpectomy and an axillary dissection of 10 lymph nodes, ending with radiotherapy.
What treatment did you have?
EC: 4 doses, every 3 weeks
Taxotere: 4 doses, every 3 weeks
lumpectomy and axillary dissection. 4 days of hospitalization.
hormonal therapy for 5 years (Aromasin) + artificial menopause with an injection every 28 days (Zoladex).
What tips directly related to K do you want to share?
(your feeling with the doctor, your good treatment organization plans, anything that seems useful to you ;))?
1/ chemo: (ex: your tips, the helmet, your affinities with nurses):
I would not recommend the headset. I know losing your hair is a painful thing. I miss my long blonde hair but in my hospital, we stopped using it so that the chemo goes EVERYWHERE and destroys any small cells lost in the brain and which could become metastases. I appreciate that they care.
Before starting chemotherapy, also think about your future offspring if you are young. This is not yet applicable everywhere!
Other than that, while on chemo, take some time for yourself. Go out if you want, but also stay home if you don't want to. Think ABOUT YOU, above all!
How did you live the day before, the same day, the days after chemo? and what were your tips?
I was quite calm the day before chemo because I knew that I was going to receive what would kill my cancer.
On chemo days, I went there with my mom and set the mood in the department.
Yes, I was sick. Yes, I had cancer but it never took away my good humor and especially my self-desire!
2/ hospital: (e.g. contact with nurses / doc / caregivers):
everything went very well. Remember to move your arm well, directly…
Otherwise, it’s a shame to bring it back later! :)
3/ “parallel” medicine, if you have done it (what disciplines, what were their benefits):
I didn't try herbs because I didn't know about the interactions with the treatment.
Acupuncture helped me sleep better and ease the effects of chemo on my digestive system.
I started shiatsu after all the treatments. That feels good !
What did you do to clear your mind/clear your head (before chemo, surgery & co)?
I spent my time at school, surrounded by my colleagues who were wonderful. When I was at home, I vacuumed every day. I can't see it in painting anymore. Otherwise, I took the opportunity to watch some series of young teenage girls… ^^
After my last chemo, I started exercising at the hospital, within the Breast Clinic. It was a lot of good to be “sports” and to be surrounded. I continue today, with an additional jazz class since we know that sport reduces the risk of recurrence.
What practical “well-being/beauty” tips can you advise us?
1/ beauty: your essential products (e.g.: creams, varnishes, scars, oils, etc.)
During the rays, I made chamomile compresses (infusion) because it relieved the itchiness. For hydration and redness, I used Avène body oil.
For the bald head, I also used an exfoliant from Roche‐Posay to open the pores and prevent the hair from growing back frizzy.
2/ look, (e.g. your favorite chemo, hospital, every day look to feel good):
I stayed dressed normally to go out. I haven't changed anything about my clothing habits. At home, good pajamas did the trick!
3/ daily (e.g. sport, food & co, meditation, reading, etc.)
During the week following chemo, I banned sugar and milk but I still don't know if this was (more) beneficial or not. :)
I practice 2 x 1h15 of sport per week and remain very very active the rest of the time.
4/ hair problem (eg: did you wear a wig, scarves, hats)
I bought a long hair wig even before my hair fell out. I wore it a lot but I preferred my look with scarves AND hair (half‐head wig with long hair, like a monk's head).
I have at least ten different scarves and I'm impatiently waiting for my hair to grow back so I can wear them again. I really liked this “hippie” look.
Towards the end, in October, I bought a new wig with a small bob.
I left it at the beginning of December so I could go FREE to Australia.
Were you concerned about the views of others, were you afraid that their views would change? What did you do to counter it?
I wasn't afraid to show off my changes. On the contrary… I was the first to ask if I could show my bald head. :)
I actually modeled for a wig store. From me being bald, you see me with several kinds of wigs, in their catalog.
The hardest part was the loss of eyelashes and eyebrows. There, I found myself sick in the mirror. 7 months have passed and the eyebrows are still slow. I have become a queen in the art of drawing eyebrows.
What are the “nugget”/footed phrases (that you remember) that someone said to you during K and that you could have avoided?
those of my darling who, for example, saw a hot girl on TV with an awesome hairstyle and who said to me: “that’s really beautiful. Will you do this when your hair has grown back?”
Or: “Yes, I’m tired. I get up every morning…”
No, I didn't mess it up. He's just clumsy sometimes! :p
I don't like people who say, think that everything is over. It is not finished. I have to live with this now.
How did your loved ones support you?
they were wonderful. No one turned their back on me. Some were much more present than others. Others barely asked for news but were happy to see me. I don't blame them at all. They just didn't know how to approach the subject. This remains delicate.
My family, my boyfriend, my son and my best friend/colleague, my colleagues have been pillars for me throughout the year.
And what advice could you give to loved ones who accompany a K fighter?
even if we repeat that we don't need help, that we want to manage on our own, insist! Come get a broom, a laundry basket, son. This relieves us enormously.
Don’t ask every day how things are going… Because on chemo, things aren’t going well. So, by being told that things are not going well, morale will take a hit and the smile may disappear.
I preferred not to respond to certain daily texts, emails, PMs because I was tired of saying that I wasn't doing well.
Do you find out about K on the internet?
I did it when I felt the first lymph nodes. I overdid it… But thanks to that, I persevered and managed to get diagnosed.
In 4 months, I had completed my “Doctissimo” doctorate.
During treatment, I tried to avoid it because we read things that are harmful, especially when the stage is more advanced.
If so, does it make you feel good?
NO ! Absolutely not. At the slightest glitch, I typed the symptoms on the Internet and I could prepare my coffin with the answers found. I couldn't sleep anymore!
If so, what would be the useful (internet) links that helped you during K?
the impatientes site is interesting. It’s good mutual support between women with breast cancer.
I enjoyed reading blogs from other young women because it comforted me in the sense that I was not the only one, that she had healed and above all kept smiling.
What has the K changed in your life...?
(for example: your vision of the world, your priorities, your essentials, refocusing those around you, in your work, your philosophy..?);
I don't know if that changed anything. I can't yet live “Carpe Diem”. I still get scared thinking about tomorrow.
However, when I see people worrying about trivialities, I often tell them that it's nothing and that there are much more serious things in life!
Free field ;)
tell us what you want (which might not be in my questions):
When I was in the waiting room of the oncology department, I often looked at all these people who had lost their smile. The walls were gray. In short, I never felt like I belonged there.
I wanted to repaint everything, put up posters that were much friendlier than constipation and above all, leave my contact details in case another young girl passes by… so that she knows that she is not alone!
Today, I would like to set up an association or something else to raise awareness among young women about palpation. I would like this gesture to become natural, like when you put on a condom to protect yourself from STDs. This small monthly gesture can save us... because if we have to wait until we are 50 to have our first mammogram, we may never be there. Yes, cancer doesn't just affect old ladies. It can touch us, the adults-children, as my 5 year old son would say!
You must know it ! You need to BE INFORMED! :)
I told it all on my blog here!
Thank you amazing Aurélie for this beautiful, positive lesson despite everything :)
Please note that I do not retouch any Interview, they are completely free, it is your freedom, your story, I just add my personal touch with the illustration, they are delivered as they were sent to me ;)
Lots of beautiful positive thoughts to everyone!!
@ very quickly