Diagnosed with lobular breast cancer in February 2020, Tracy’s suspicions from five years previous were confirmed. Something wasn’t right in her breast.
In 2015, Tracy went to her GP after experiencing some pain in her left breast. Because she didn’t have any lumps, and nothing was detected on her mammogram, Tracy’s concerns were pushed aside and she was diagnoses with cystitis.
“I didn’t know at that stage that I had dense breasts. I know it’s not protocol for your team to tell you that after a mammogram, but it would have been so beneficial for me to know that I was at an increased risk of breast cancer because of the makeup of my boobs.”
Always conscious of her health, five years later Tracy took up an invitation to attend a routine BreastCheck screening and that’s when everything changed. In February 2020, Tracy was diagnosed with lobular breast cancer.
“The technician on the day just kept say that it was a great catch, and that I was really lucky. That stuck in my head because at the time, I was in such shock that it didn’t feel like a great catch.”
As Tracy was diagnosed on the cusp of the COVID-19 pandemic, everything moved very quickly.
“I was diagnosed on the 17th February and I was in for my mastectomy on the 31st March. It all happened really quickly and to be honest with you, I’m thankful for that. It all went smoothly and I was in and out before things got messy because of COVID.”
After surgery, Tracy went on to have radiotherapy and chemotherapy and one year later, she is now free from cancer.
“I’m now very clear about what I want when it comes to my health. The cancer type that I had, it’s likely to spread to the other breast, so when I go for check-ups, I request an MRI. I know that lots of women aren’t given that opportunity but I’m really lucky that my team understand my concerns and are obliging. Having experienced what I have, it’s not something I’m willing to risk.”
Following on from her cancer treatment, Tracy was desperate for some support.
“I have the three boys and my husband, so while they were amazing, and I had all the practical support I could have needed, I was lacking slightly in emotional support. My friend Barbara was incredible, and I’ll never be able to thank her enough for her help, but when the Marie Keating Foundation’s Survive&Thrive programme was recommended to me and I connected with other women that were going through what I had been through, I really felt like I wasn’t alone. It made me feel like I wasn’t losing my mind.”
Now, a year and a half over her diagnosis, Tracy says she is a different person, and the colour that comes to mind when she thinks of her cancer journey is green.
“I got a dog the year before I was diagnosed and he has truly been my saving grace. I always loved to walk, so now, myself and the dog go out and walk around, and it gives me that space to think.”
“When I would go for a walk after treatment, I would always look up at the tree’s while I was walking. At the time it kept me grounded and connected with the world around me but now, I can see that those trees in a way were me. When cancer touched my life, I felt like a diseased tree. I went through all the seasons with my journey, autumn when things were beginning to change, winter when things looked bleak, and now it’s spring and I’m healthy, happy, and in full bloom again. That’s why my breast cancer journey is green.”
Tracy is sharing her story this October to help encourage other women to go to their GP if they notice a change in their bodies, or if they have any concerns when it comes to their health.