Sarah

"Back in 2015 whilst in the bath, my 10-year-old daughter looked up from the book she was reading and told me that my right nipple looked "a bit funny". In retrospect, my right breast did feel a bit heavier than the left, but I had rationalised that many women had one boob bigger than the other.

Concerned, I went for a mammogram the next day and was delivered the devastating news that I had a 9 cm aggressive lobular cancer.

Oddly enough, I had tested negative for the BRCA2 gene, despite my family history. Maybe I was one of the unlucky one in eight women who just got breast cancer, or perhaps the gene pathway for my particular cancer hasn't yet been discovered.

In any case, it was an emotional rollercoaster, with the first two weeks being the worst. My bone scans showed there were "hot spots" in my sacrum and iliac bones which the doctor told me were quite possibly cancerous (but thankfully turned out not to be). I really thought that was the end and I remember just wanting to be around my kids and ringing Mum in tears. Mum sobbed with me and said she was afraid too, and that is what I needed as I had been putting on a brave face for everyone and needed to fall apart.

After my surgery I needed to go on an aromatase inhibitor to block any oestrogen which my cancer was very sensitive to. It meant menopause hit me like a freight train - full blown hot flushes at 41.

At one stage I was laughing, thinking to myself, I'm having so many hot flushes, the only part of my body that doesn't feel like it's on fire are my boobs (my implants felt like two lumps of cold fish).

During this time, I also struggled with painful intercourse. But I never let on because I knew my wonderful husband would be devastated and not want to cause me any distress.

My specialist mentioned a trial involving Mona Lisa Touch laser treatment, which can help with the symptoms of dryness and painful intercourse after menopause. Lord knows if I was in the "control" group or getting the real deal, but I felt a dramatic improvement. More than that, I felt like a woman again at a time when having my breasts and ovaries removed made me feel completely androgynous.

For me, vaginal atrophy was another reminder of my cancer and cancer was something I couldn't change. Having treatment for it was something I could do - and a year later I started my own clinic (The Jade Room) helping other women experiencing similar symptoms. Men have Viagra - that's a $72 billion industry and now it's cheaper than a cup of coffee. Why shouldn't women feel sexy too?"

Sarah's Motto – "Don't let intimacy after breast cancer be the white elephant in the room. Feel comfortable with menopause changes - not shame and embarrassment. And don't suffer in silence."

Sarah's story was published in The Central Coast Breast Cancer Compendium.

Related Information

Janis' Story
Video: The Family Curse
Video: Game Changers