Pamela Green, a 53 year old stay at home wife, saved her life after following her ‘gut’ feeling back in 2001. While sitting at home on the sofa watching TV, Pamela felt a lump on her breast and immediately sorted advice from her GP in April of that year. Her initial fear that it was breast cancer got diverted when one of the doctors who examined her, said there was nothing there of concern and that what she might be feeling was bone.
Leaving the GP’s office and feeling a sense of relief, Pamela continued her monthly ‘breast checks’ by lying down on the bed and using three fingers to feel for lumps, which she learned from reading popular women’s magazines. A year later, Pamela noticed she could consistently feel the same lump and still felt it could be something of concern. In February 2002, Pamela searched for a second opinion by going to see a different GP who also examined her and said nothing was there.
Convinced by her gut feeling that something was indeed wrong, Pamela requested an appointment with a “trusted doctor” in April 2002. This doctor phoned the Cancer Care Unit and booked an appointment straight after the examination. Within two weeks Pamela was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and was scheduled for a mastectomy. Pamela tells us, “I knew I should have gone back sooner but I trusted my GP’s opinion even though my gut told me differently… if I went back earlier I could have saved myself from having a mastectomy”
She remembered how it felt after finally hearing that she was right all along. ‘I felt like I was sitting on a stool and everything around me was falling away, everything around me was black and everything I’ve done was gone’. The effects of chemotherapy left her tired and unwell for some time, she found herself reading more magazines and literature on breast cancer and noticed that most of the stories were about women who did so much when they were ill and went above and beyond what they normally did. Instead she wanted to see more stories of someone who felt ill and tired but still lived a less hectic lifestyle, because that’s what she felt capable of. She wanted to know it was okay to feel this way and that it was normal that not everyone can go through something like this and still carry on with a hectic lifestyle.
‘Most magazine articles portray women who got back up on their feet and did something amazing and it made me feel worse, like I had to push myself further even though I felt tired and unwell most days’. All she felt capable of doing at the time was resting and listening to peaceful music. During the two weeks break between Chemotherapy sections Pamela sometimes felt slightly better and was able to go out and enjoy life with her son. (age 10 at the time) Pamela found the change difficult at first, everyone around her knew something was wrong, but eventually she grew more comfortable and confident. She had more time for a peaceful life appreciating the countryside and nature.
Since being diagnosed, Pamela’s life has changed from being a private and shy to a confident person who encourages others like her sister to check herself. ‘Make sure to check yourself regularly using different positions not just lying down but try sitting up or standing in-front of the mirror’. No one knows your body better than you do and sometimes you can tell when something is wrong. You may not know exactly what it is, but you can feel deep down that something isn’t right. She continues ‘Always double and triple check if your gut feeling is that something is wrong, you may not want to but force yourself – it could save your life!’. Pamela has now successfully finished her cancer care treatment and is in full remission.