Wendy T. - „You just have to get through it“

I can still hear myself say it: “I am stronger than I’ve ever been in my adult life.” Good job, physically active. Diving.

Two years of intensive weight training. Running after a long break from injury. And then...

Wednesday morning, I was working from home. After the hot summer of 2018, 3 October was the first cooler day we’d had in a while, and I felt cold. I crossed my arms around me, high under my cardigan. And that’s when I felt a bulge on the side of my left breast. My husband could feel it too.

So I rang my GP. He said: “I’ll make an appointment for you at the hospital.” He didn’t sound particularly concerned. I got an appointment for the Friday so I didn’t have to spend the weekend worrying. My husband asked me whether he should come along, but based on my GP’s reaction I didn’t think it was necessary. “No, oh, it’s just a routine check-up.”

I was examined at the breast centre: first a mammography, then an ultrasound. “Nothing has stood out to me on the images,” said the radiologist. I felt reassured. Until he examined my armpit. “Actually I’m going to do a biopsy. Also from under your arm, there’s a lymph node there that seem a little enlarged.”

Oh. Ok. “You’re pretty calm,” said the nurse who was also there. In that very moment, my hands started to shake. The radiologist handed me a report for the breast centre. “Should I be worried?” I asked. He responded with a serious expression: “I can’t tell you that you shouldn’t be worried.”

 

"I wouldn’t assume
everything is fine."

“What did the radiologist say to you?” asked the nurse back at the breast centre. I immediately felt the tears come. The report was really concerning. I should have the final results in the coming week. I asked again whether everything could still turn out to be fine. “I wouldn’t assume everything is fine.” And that was that. Then you just sit there.

And you have to ring your husband, knowing you’re about to turn his world upside down. Your parents. Your friends. From that point on, everything went very quickly. A tumour in my breast, metastases in my
armpit. A PET scan: are there any more metastases? Within a week and a half, you go from being fit as a fiddle to seriously ill, maybe even terminally so. You don’t have time to process this. You just have to get through it. The fact that I was in such good shape from sport went in my favour. Thankfully the PET scan was fine.

It pains me to say that I can no
longer take a healthy body for granted.

 

Treatment began shortly afterwards. Chemo and immunotherapy. During the six rounds I had, I became more and more ill. I lost my hair and couldn’t eat anything. I was absolutely exhausted, my bones ached and I suffered with neuralgia. Chemotherapy might be life-saving, but it’s also extremely destructive. During this time, there were two rays of hope. Firstly, there was the FIT programme. This is a gentle physiotherapy programme with other women in a similar position, as movement during chemotherapy is proven to have positive effects: participants in the programme tolerate treatment better than patients who don’t do any regular exercise.

Secondly, there was the fantastic world of sport, which I was already involved in. I told my story on Instagram and received brilliant responses from the running community. My ANITA ladies really shared my pain. I was suddenly an ANITA lady in two respects: on the one hand I was an ambassador for the superb Anita active sports bra, at the same time however I was relying on the wonderful Anita care collection, which really helped me after my breast preserving surgery and during radiotherapy. The invasive treatments are now finished, but unfortunately it doesn’t end there for me. I have another six months of immunotherapy and probably another five years of hormone  therapy ahead of me.

My body and mind have also changed radically. Breast cancer is a diagnosis that never allows you to say you’re completely cured. The odds are in my favour, but this thought will be with me forever. It pains me to say that I can no longer take a healthy body for granted. I will always have to undergo check-ups, which I know will be the cause of more anxiety to come. What helps is being able to see what my body is capable of. I’ll never forget the first time I went running during my rehabilitation. I shed countless tears, I was back on it! Diving after getting the go-ahead from the doctors. Floating at eye level with a seahorse and enjoying the beauty nature has to offer. Gaining trust in my body once more after feeling like it had deceived me.

Sport and everything that goes with it is fantastic. It got me through this difficult time, mentally and physically. I hope that I get to be an ANITA ambassador for a long time to come and can share my love for sport. Just you wait world, I can and I will succeed!