Tabby Duff was only 26 when she was dealt the devastating blow of being diagnosed with breast cancer.
Here she tells her breast cancer story in her own words.
Could you share with us a summary of your experience with breast cancer?
I found a small 2cm lump in my right breast in October 2020, totally out of the blue and very unexpected. Being only 26, with no family history of breast cancer, there was no part of me that thought anything other than this was just something hormonal or maybe a cyst. I got in touch with the GP immediately anyway as I knew this was unusual for me, but cancer really was the last thing on my mind.
Six weeks later, I was diagnosed with a stage 2, grade 3, triple positive breast cancer. Due to COVID, I was told the bad news completely alone, and safe to say it was quite the shock. I don’t really remember much of that day other than feeling completely numb and almost like I was outside of my body, watching my world come crumbling apart from a distance.
What happened next?
Following the initial shock of my diagnosis, I decided I needed to keep positive if I was going to get through this. I started a blog and shared my experience as a young woman with breast cancer through social media which massively helped me, not only to share my own thoughts but to be able to meet others in a similar situation, and to be able to help people who were also struggling with their own cancer journeys.
I had 7 rounds of chemotherapy, a single mastectomy with immediate implant reconstruction, sentinel node biopsy, and now I’m on hormone therapy (Letrozole & Zoladex) along with Kadcyla for the HER2+ aspect of my cancer. I’ve had 14 rounds of this in total.
How are you feeling now?
It’s safe to say it’s been an emotional rollercoaster – and that’s putting it extremely mildly! I’ve had my heart broken from losing friends I’ve made in the cancer community, I’ve been upset for putting my family, friends, and boyfriend through this, I’ve felt guilty for somehow allowing cancer to happen to my body (which I know isn’t true!) and survivor’s guilt for making it to this point. I’ve felt so much anger at how unfair this has all been. But I’ve also felt so unbelievably happy and loved, and so grateful to be alive. I’ve made it through – and I’m so proud of me.
Do you have any advice or tips for anyone who has been through a similar experience?
My main advice is to take everything one day at a time. In the beginning, it can be so overwhelming, and the journey to the end of chemo or surgery recovery can feel so long! But you just take it day by day. And suddenly, you’ll be on the other side of it, and you can look back and see how far you’ve come. Also – don’t google anything!! It’s not helpful and so much of the info out there is really outdated anyway.
What does a breast cancer free future mean to you?
To be able to stop breast cancer in its tracks, stopping it before a diagnosis even occurs, and if it does, stopping it from ever reaching stage 4. We’ve lost far too many incredible people to this horrible disease.
Thank you so much to Tabby for sharing her inspirational story with us.
You can read more about Tabby on her blog here and make sure to give her Instagram (@tabbyduff) a follow as she navigates her life after cancer.