My name is Usha, and I am 40 years old. I lived in UAE, India, and Singapore before immigrating to Canada. I work as an IT project manager in higher education. I love travelling to places I have never been before, learning and experiencing new cultures, food and also solving puzzles, crosswords, and trivia. I am South Asian. Both of my parents are from the Konkani speaking community in Karnataka in Southern India.
My Breast Cancer Story
I was diagnosed at 29, I felt a lump that was fortunately right under my skin – got sent off to a mammogram and an ultrasound. The mammogram came back completely normal (I learned about dense breasts much later) – but the ultrasound report had the word “sinister” on it and recommended a biopsy urgently. A biopsy then confirmed the 3 c, stage 2, ER/PR positive cancer. I was completely blindsided and lost – living alone far away from my family.
I had a very brief counselling session about fertility and potential freezing of eggs/embryos. After a lumpectomy, chemo and radiation, I was placed on Tamoxifen for 5 years. While the treatment itself was gruelling, I was informed about what to expect every step of the way, and I found a community with other fellow survivors.
Once the treatments ended, and I tried to move on with life, this is where the information ended. I was asked not to get pregnant on Tamoxifen but birth control options were basically non-existent.
When I wanted to start a family, none of the gynaecologists, in Canada or Singapore, seemed to have any idea why my periods did not come back, why I was still in menopause at age 35, would I ever be able to get pregnant. The doctors were even hesitant to recommend fertility treatments, given the strong hormone receptor status in my diagnosis. Finally – we decided to just take a break from Tamoxifen, the doctors, the treatments,
Of course – we ended up getting pregnant just like that and my daughter was born when I was 37.
As younger and younger people get diagnosed, we really need more research into the unique challenges that younger people face with this disease.
I Want You to Know
In our community, we don’t like to talk about “women things.”
But it’s vital to know about our bodies and be aware and informed when things change, to understand when you need to get routine exams. Breast cancer is both scary and not so scary at the same time. There are many treatments and being vigilant and informed can save your life. Home remedies, daily yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises are wonderful but do not reduce the need for medical attention. It’s not a flex to “never go to a doctor” – age appropriate testing and prevention are important.
Diagnosed at 29