By Liana Jacob
THIS BRAVE mum was terrified that her son would grow up without her after being diagnosed with breast cancer but after undergoing a MASTECTOMY she is OWNING her body and doesn’t care if she’s SINGLE FOREVER because of her ONE BOOB.
In March 2018, data analyst, Trina Cleary (35) from Wexford, Ireland, felt a small, pea-sized lump in her left breast which moved around. She brushed it off as hormones and ignored it, as she thought she was too young to have cancer.
By August 2018 when she visited her GP, her lump had increased to 3cm in size, but her doctor wasn’t too concerned about it. She went back to the doctor two months later and by this time her lump had grown to 5cm, so a biopsy was performed, and the results had shown that she had stage two invasive ductal and lobular breast cancer.
She was terrified at the news and had to undergo eight rounds of chemotherapy on a two-week cycle and an unsuccessful lumpectomy which meant that she had to have a single mastectomy with no reconstruction surgery. This followed 25 rounds of radiotherapy which was a tough journey for her.
Trina, who has a son called Corey (12), became fearful for her future and the possibility that her son could grow up without a mother. As she couldn’t tell him herself, her mum told Corey the news which prompted him to approach her. They talked about it and cried together.
While initially Trina was put off by her image post-mastectomy, she soon felt a surge of empowerment, knowing she made the right decision. She now owns her body with pride and even though she wondered if any man would ever love her, she is now proud of her journey.
“My story began when I discovered a small, movable pea sized lump in my left breast; I did what most do, and ignored it, put it down to hormones,” Trina said.
“I was thirty-three years old so there was no need to worry about it being anything sinister as I was too young – that was wrong.
“Fast forward to August 2018 and I went to my GP, again, he wasn’t overly concerned despite the pea sized lump increasing to around three centimetres.
“Eight weeks later, I had my first appointment in the breast clinic; it was here that it was estimated my pea sized lump was around five centimetres. It was also this day I was diagnosed with cancer.
“That day was like watching a film or an outer body experience where I was looking down on my own self and my mum and sister huddled on the floor sobbing uncontrollably, like I was floating.
“I was in pure shock but at the same time I half expected because I just had that gut feeling as I felt the lump grow in size from finding it in March 2018.
“I have had eight rounds of chemotherapy, one unsuccessful lumpectomy, one single mastectomy opting for no reconstruction and twenty-five rounds of daily radiotherapy.
“Chemo was incredibly tough, the later sessions especially, with one round of treatment leading me to request a meeting with my oncologist because I was refusing anymore treatment.
“I was in a world of pain that I couldn’t get under control, wanting to go asleep and not wake up so I could be out of the pain.
“I would have made a deal with the devil to make it stop. I cried for four to five days solid post chemo. The good news is we reduced my chemo and I was able to manage the remaining two.
“I have had my lymph nodes removed so I have some limited arm movement but again nothing that affects me hugely; my arm is numb also but hopefully that feeling comes back eventually.
“The mastectomy was a different experience; I definitely grew as a person since having it but mentally you wonder ‘who will ever want me, who will ever love me? I’m half a woman and forever known as the girl who had cancer’.
“Now I don’t care who wants or loves me or if I’m single forever, I love myself enough just fine. Telling my son was very tough.
“I couldn’t say the words, so my mum told him and then he came into me and we chatted, I cried. My biggest fear was my son was going to grow up without a mother.”
Trina says that a big confidence boost was when her friend took professional shots of her showing off her body post-mastectomy.
She has since decided to spread awareness of her journey encouraging women to get checked as early as possible for the best chance of recovery.
“I stayed mostly positive, I had bad days, but one mantra I had was, ‘these feelings are temporary, tomorrow is a new day, this too shall pass’,” she said.
“Tomorrow was always a fresh twenty-four hours and I just had to remember that in my darkest of days how many people had my back (a literal army – the unicorn army).
“I quickly learned that by staying positive I made the journey somewhat easier by not wallowing in the negativity and grief.
“I was ready to own my body; I felt confident enough to share to hopefully instil confidence in other survivors that this scar we wear on our chest is beautiful and a badge of honour.
“I gained so much from such an awful thing; I could either feel sorry for myself (sometimes I still do, that’s normal) or I could own it and try to make a difference and help others.
“I want to inspire other women and men to love themselves, say nice things to themselves and really believe those words.
“The photographs made me feel empowered; I’ve not had any negativity which I love. So many people reach out to me and its lovely to chat to people and hear their story.
“Love yourself; love the body you have and be kind to it, it’s the only one you have. Check yourself regularly; early detection for any type of disease is crucial. Don’t think you’re too young or too healthy.”
For more information visit: www.instagram.com/tri_cleary