Corina facing her second battle with breast cancer
Corina Bradley with Breast Care Nurse Jan Snowdon smiling at camera
This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Wesley breast cancer patient and grandmother of four Corina Bradley was kind enough to share her experience of having breast cancer twice and the advice she has for others.
Corina was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002 at the age of 39, she had no prior family history of the disease and found a pea sized lump under her arm which was sore.
“My husband at the time encouraged me to check everywhere else and I found a small ridge on my breast which was only about 1cm long,” Corina said.
“I went to the GP who immediately sent me to The Wesley Breast Clinic where I had a mammogram and an ultrasound which were initially inconclusive.
“I was then sent for a fine needle aspiration biopsy, when it was being drawn out I immediately knew something was wrong as the clinician said the colour was milky white.”
By the end of the day Corina had her results, a HER2 positive breast cancer which was caught before it spread throughout her body but still required aggressive treatment.
“I saw Dr Ian Bennett who advised me to have a lumpectomy followed by chemotherapy and radiation. While on treatment I was able to enter a clinical trial for pre-menopausal women,” Corina said.
“During the clinical trial I received a cycle of four drugs, followed by radiation, more drugs and I was closely monitored for 12 months, I finally finished my treatment in April 2004.”
At nearly 20 years post treatment, on the same day Olivia Newton John passed away Corina was again diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I had been having trouble with my right elbow and I wanted to rule out anything else it could be, so I went in for more tests,” Corina said.
“Again, there was nothing on the mammogram and only a tiny spot on the ultrasound just millimetres long, the clinicians did a biopsy and sure enough it was cancer.
“The ductal carcinoma in situ or DCIS cancer was only 5mm and under a cubic centimetre in the same breast as before.”
This time Corina has decided to have a double mastectomy again with Dr Bennet but in a short space of time the tumour had grown to 20mm and required further chemotherapy and immunotherapy.
“I have had my third round of antibiotics which are not helping as I have an antibiotic resistant infection, from here I need a port-a-cath inserted and I am hoping to start chemotherapy in November,” Corina said.
“My third round of antibiotics has had to very strong as the external infection was resistant to most antibiotics, From here, I need to have a port-a-cath inserted and I am hoping to begin chemotherapy in November.
“After my surgery at the Wesley, I have had ongoing support and care from the wonderful Breast Care Nurses. Not only have they been forthcoming with all manner of great advice for post-surgery care but have been instrumental in progressing the wound care and healing.
“Fortunately, I have no signs of metastatic disease and no signs of lymphedema. This round of chemotherapy will be a metaphorical mopping up of any cancer cells left.”
While a second diagnosis of breast cancer is a daunting experience Corina remains optimistic and is determined to stay positive.
Corina says she is surrounded by a very caring daughter, a wonderful family and a magnificent group of friends, near and far, who avail themselves at every opportunity to assist in my recovery.
“I am working with a physiologist to ensure I still have a good range of movement and I will continue to exercise during my treatment, with the help of the staff at Choices Cancer Support Centre,” Corina said.
“For anyone else going through cancer I would say we want our control back but you can’t necessarily control cancer so you must focus on what you can control.
“Exercise, move your body, meet friends, connect with people, don’t sit at home and wallow, don’t hide behind it and don’t let it rule you.
“I want people to be breast aware, make sure you check your breasts regularly, notice any changes and have them screened. Always go with your gut because it’s most likely trying to tell you something.”
For more information:
- How to perform a breast check Self Breast Check Video - (Link to YouTube)
- Wesley Breast Clinic Breast Clinic
- Wesley Breast and Endocrine Surgery Breast and endocrine surgery
- Wesley Cancer Care Services Cancer care services
- Wesley Choices Cancer Support Centre The Wesley Hospital Choices Cancer Support Centre