In October 2020, a British woman was diagnosed with breast cancer; at the time, she was 27 years old. She even heard from doctors that she was “too young” to have the disease.
In mid-September 2020, Melissa Fisher felt a golf ball-sized lump in her right breast while showering and immediately contacted a GP.
Even without any apparent concern during the consultation, the professional attended to her and referred her for an ultrasound and biopsy at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth. However, the doctor stated that it was “definitely not cancer” and claimed she shouldn’t worry.
“He practically told me, ‘You don’t have to worry about cancer, you’re too young, we just need to check to be on the safe side,'” Fisher told the Mail Online news portal.
However, in October of that year, tests confirmed that she had invasive ductal carcinoma – in the milk duct – at an early stage, grade 3, considered the most aggressive, and positive for HER2+ (a protein that stimulates cancer to grow faster). ).
“I remember bursting into tears. I think the first thing that came out of my mouth was, ‘I’m going to die, my daughter is going to grow up without a mother’. I wasn’t expecting the news I got because everyone kept telling me: ‘Oh, you’re going to be fine, you’re young,'” Melissa said.
For her, doctors should not be authorized to say whether or not a person has cancer without having the diagnosis in hand, as it is sensitive information that emotionally affects patients.
“One of the things that really frustrates me is that people say we are too young, we don’t need to be alarmed, but in reality cancer can strike anyone at any age,” he warned.
Despite everything, Melissa considers that she was lucky to have been seen so quickly by her doctor and for him to have supported the tests, as this prevented the tumor from becoming intractable.
In November, the young woman had a mastectomy to remove the tumor and a sentinel lymph node biopsy — the first to receive lymphatic drainage from breast cancer — to check that the disease had not spread to her lymph nodes.
Before starting chemotherapy, Melissa underwent a procedure to preserve fertility, which consists of reserving a certain number of eggs, as cancer treatment could compromise them.
At the end of December, the young woman began chemotherapy. In April 2021, she completed the six sessions planned for the treatment and, soon after, underwent two weeks of radiotherapy, in addition to continuing with the injection against the HER2 protein until August of the same year.
In the face of all the procedures performed, Melissa does not forget the internal challenges she had to deal with after the surprise of the diagnosis.
“I had the worst anxiety when I was undergoing treatment. I couldn’t leave the house or even take my daughter to the park by myself. I felt scared and anxious and too sick to do anything,” Fisher reported.
The young woman’s self-esteem was also weakened during the treatment, as “losing my hair was one of the hardest parts for me. It was my crown, my favorite part of me, and I know it sounds stupid, but obviously losing it is like losing it. identity completely”.
Today, Fisher has monthly breast exams and uses Instagram to remind her family and friends to do the same, especially if doctors don’t take early symptoms seriously.
“Now I’m passionate about trying to spread awareness, especially to young women, because there are so many who are deceived — whether it’s breast cancer or any kind of tumor,” says Melissa.
The first step towards a new life was to marry then-boyfriend Ashley, 29, shortly after the remission of the disease. “I got married after treatment to show you can live life again and be happy.”
In response to the British’s allegations, the spokesman responsible for health facilities in the Portsmouth region, belonging to the National Health Services of England and Wales, gave the opinion of the institution.
“While we cannot comment on individual patient cases, we can assure people that when patients are referred to our hospital with symptoms of breast cancer, they are investigated thoroughly to establish a diagnosis.”
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