In honour of breast cancer awareness month, this series will highlight stories of strong and courageous women who have won their battle with this life-changing illness. Paula Alfred from St. Lucia shares her very personal and unique story with us, revealing how she is coping post-cancer and offers words of advice to the public and those who may be suffering from this illness right now.
When were you diagnosed and at what age?
I was diagnosed in October 2011 at the age of 46.
What stage were you diagnosed with?
How was the cancer initially detected? (i.e. through a breast self-exam (BSE), a clinical breast-exam (CBE) or an annual mammogram)
Through a breast self-exam, after I felt pain in the breast.
How did you feel when you first received the news?
I was kind of expecting the results but still felt a bit sad.
Is there a history of breast cancer in your family?
No, I have no history of breast cancer in my family.
Did you have a support network? If not, how did you overcome that or find one?
I did have a support network in the form of family and friends and the American Cancer Society.
Tell me about your treatment process.
I had six rounds of chemo (TCH) which included a full year of Herceptin. The side effects were hair loss and the loss of taste.
Were there any programmes or services offered to you that would help with the treatment process?
Yes, meeting with survivors on a monthly basis.
What message would you like to provide women in the community?
Get to know your bodies and any unusual lumps and pain need to be checked out. Please do BSE’s and mammograms.
By: Chantel Dacosta
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