Emma on breast cancer and going through an early menopause

Published: 28 October 2022

Emma was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020 after finding a lump in her breast in the shower. Here she shares more about her treatment which led to an early menopause.

Meet Emma

I could tell from the faces in the room during the ultrasound that they didn’t like what they saw.

The hospital wanted to take a biopsy straight away after I had been referred by my GP to the hospital. It hurt. It really bloody hurt. I was patched up, given some water and helped into another room to relax.

The doctor, the radiologist and a nurse all ask me how I feel, my stomach falls. My heart races. I know what they are about to say. The doctor holds my hand. “Have you got anyone here with you?” she says. I shake my head. She looks me in the eye.

“I’m really sorry to say but we believe you have breast cancer”. I say something ridiculous along the lines of “oh fine, ok” and then I don’t hear another word.

“I text my husband. ‘I’ve got it’ is all I could write.”

I had to tell my son. We decided to be honest with him as much as possible. He’s 9.

I told him I have a lump. That it’s cancer. But it’s ok, it can be fixed. He cries. I know why. He heard one word that I said – cancer. And now he thinks his Mummy is going to die. We all hug and we tell him that that is not going to happen. That Mummy is going to get better and that we all need to be strong and it will all be fine.

What the hell do you say to people? I went for the direct approach – “Mum, Dad…..sit down I have something to tell you…I don’t know how to say this, so I am just going to say it. I have breast cancer”.

I am not one to hide from what is going on in my life. I’ve been through a mixture of emotions – denial, fear, optimism, anger to name a few. Having cancer can also make you feel different about your body, and as a woman I think the thought of losing part or all of your breast is really quite frightening.

“Hormone therapy brought on a quick menopause.”

Life has changed and I went through a through process within a few weeks that normally takes a woman a couple of years.

Since then, I made the decision to have my ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. The monthly hormone implants were horrible, leaving my stomach really sore and bruised. So I decided to have the surgery to put me into a permanent menopause.

I take a type of hormone therapy drug called anastrozole now and will do for the next 5 years. Because of the lack of oestrogen I am more at risk at a younger age of bone cancer and osteoarthritis so every 6 months I go into hospital for a zoledronic acid infusion to strengthen my bones. However, I have just been diagnosed as having osteoarthritis in my fingers which I know could affect my job in the future.

So, cancer is never really over!

I had heard about people going through the menopause early but had never thought of it being part of cancer treatment. I thought I would have at least another 9 or 10 years before having to contend with those symptoms!

You hear a lot of horror stories about the effects – night sweats, hot flushes, etc and I was worried that I would have to deal with those as well as cancer.

I read more about my hormone therapy tablets and injections on the Macmillan website and spoke to a couple of people on the online community about it. I felt like being prepared was my best course of action. I feel that the more prepared I am the better.

We are here for you

Cancer comes with many hidden costs. But Macmillan is here to support you. You may find these resources helpful: