Joy Parsons - TNBC Survivors Story

Joy Parsons - TNBC Survivors Story

Seventeen years ago, in my late forties, I was diagnosed with a Stage 3 Grade 3, Triple Negative Breast Cancer.

          Within two weeks of being booked in for a mastectomy, the tumour had grown so large that I needed chemotherapy to shrink it to an operable size. I had my first chemotherapy treatment (FEC) in late October.

          There was no improvement by Christmas. In fact, the tumour under my arm was so large that I had to carry a cushion to support the weight.

           In January I started a course of Taxotere, accompanied by radiotherapy. There was a lot of lymphatic fluid surrounding the tumour, so my oncologist used a syringe and withdrew one and a half litres of it! After that, I could put my arm down by my side for the first time in months.

          By March, despite an infection in the tumour site itself, the tumour was small enough to be operable. I had a radical mastectomy with complete lymph gland clearance and removal of some muscle under my arm.

          The wound required drains for a week and a half, and a part of the incision wouldn't close over fully until we used Sorbsan (a seaweed derivative). Once the wound was fully closed, I continued with chemotherapy, until the end of the Summer, when I was officially 'in remission'. I was told that if the cancer returned, I would only be able to receive palliative care.

          As luck would have it, towards the end of my treatment, someone gave me a copy of Chris Woollams' ICON magazine. What a lifesaver it was (literally)! I immediately ordered all his books and started taking his advice. I'd also heard that Chinese Tai Chi and Qigong were good for mental, physical and emotional health and began looking for a class in my area.

          So began my post cancer journey into a new world of complementary therapies and self-help!

          Within four weeks of finishing treatment I started attending a Tai Chi class. I also began a course in Aromatherapy and took Chris' advice on eating a 'Rainbow Diet'. I took supplements such as Chlorella, Turmeric, Astragalus, CQ10, Vit D, complete Vit E, Omega 3, and Sillymarin. I swapped cow's milk for soya milk (even though my cancer wasn't oestrogen driven). Over time, I also completed a course in Reiki Healing and started practising Buddhist meditation.

          Ten years after my operation I was finally discharged from the hospital, although I'll always have to manage lymphoedema in my arm. I now teach eleven classes of Tai Chi a week and have initiated classes at a local Maggie Cancer Care Centre. I have a greater sense of well-being now than I've ever had in my entire life.

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