I have spent most of my life being very healthy. I used to pride myself on never having a sick day and I used to laugh in the face of people that were sick and miserable.
Finding a lump on my breast
This sadly changed on October 11 2009. As I walked my children to their wrestling class with the dogs I felt a funny pain in my breast. I thought nothing of it until my Dachshund Dotty, decided to run away and I chased her. When I ran something painful and unfamiliar was juggling around in my bra. Of course, I thought it was an acorn and Autumn was to blame for my discomfort.
Only later when I returned home did I try and look for the acorn in my top and could not find it. To my dismay I did find a painful lump in my breast.
I ignored it as I did an interview for work and when a later conference call got a bit boring I decided to Goggle "lump in breast". This eased my worry as everything was telling me that this pain was caused by a cyst and cancer did not hurt.
So, I ignored this for a week and then finally got around to making an appointment at the doctor. I was not in any rush and when I made the appointment,in fact... I TOLD HIM it was a cyst!
One month later on November 10, I had my cyst removed. The operation was simple and I candidly booked several business trips and carried on as usual. The doctor called me for a follow up one week later and I managed to squeeze a 30 minute appointment into my now packed schedule. Recalling now, I did't want to go to the doctor as I had much more exciting and better things to do.
I can remember breezing into the Doctor's surgery in full make up and high heels. I smiled at the women in the waiting room, but then religiously continued working on my iPhone as this was just a follow up to say the cyst had been removed and I was fine. After the operation I had spent a week immersed in business. I thought it was the best way to clear my mind and I was doing some juicy consultancy which really excited me. I was also dabbling in sales and my mind was focused on winning big.
At this point, I realise that I wasn't prepared in any way for the shock that was before me. Mind numbingly I had ignored any arguments or even dwelled on this lump being any more than a cyst - because everything I read on the web told me that cancer didn't hurt.
When I was called in to the Seehiem Clinic by my Doctor Paul Stenger, I didn't notice anything tense or strange about him, I just reminded him how busy I was and smiled and asked what my results were.
He asked me to sit down and I thought to myself, "I haven't got time to sit, I really must go and do some work". But like a frustrated actress, I played my role and smiled at the doctor and sat.
He looked at me and started to talk. I received and SMS and my gut reaction was to read it immediately in case it was something big - the journalist me hungered for the scoop and I could hardly hear what he was saying. As I made my way inside my bag to find my iPhone - Dr. Stenger said, loudly, "Frau Roberts, are you listening".
Of course, I wasn't. So, I apologised and said, "sorry, I am busy with work and will be flying to Paris in a few days".
This time we made eye contact and I saw a concerned look in his eyes, "Bena Roberts" he said firmly. "I am afraid you have breast cancer the tumor was tested and its an aggressive metaplastic cancer".
My head started to spin as he continued, "the next few months will be hard. There will be another operation and then chemotherapy. This is usually six months and it will be like entering a black tunnel. But in every tunnel there is light and you are young and strong and I would say by June or July you will be past the worst of it".
I could feel tears run down my face but I still couldn't believe that he was talking to me. I finally spoke and said, "are you sure you haven't made a mistake. There were a lot of operations last week. Are you sure its me?"
Dr. Stenger made it clear that he hadn't made a mistake and I felt even more shocked and miserable than ever. I was still sure he was wrong as I felt good. I didn't accuse him of making a mistake again, but numbers and words he was mentioning to me were like a strange and alien language.
I just kept on thinking. I am too young for cancer. There is no cancer in my family and there is no way I could have got this. I breastfed for God's sake. Women who breast feed, not one, but two babies for over a year - don't get cancer.... ESPECIALLY NOT BREAST CANCER.
I remember leaving the doctor's feeling lonely, shocked and confused. I didn't deserve this. I didn't want this. This couldn't be happening to me. OMG. Was I going to die?
OMG. Something hit me. I had waited for so long to turn 36, life was great, work was great, sex was great (I was in my sexual peak for God's Sake), the kids were at an age where we were a great family and going out all the time and having fun...... call me self centred or arrogant or anything but I felt doubly wronged for being robbed of my womanhood.
Then, like being hit my a rock, something else hit me...
How on earth was I going to tell my husband?