Liliana’s story: a nurse with breast cancer

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Liliana, of Sydney’s inner west, was finishing her nursing degree when her GP noticed a lump in her right breast.

Next week Nurse Uncut will have another post about a nursing student with cancer. Here’s Liliana’s story.

“I took the lump seriously to a point but, not having a history of breast cancer in my family, I thought it was going to be okay.”

A mammogram and CAT scan at the Royal Prince Alfred hospital were ordered. In March 2014 Liliana underwent a lumpectomy, with a surgeon removing two of the three lumps that had been discovered. A biopsy of the lumps returned negative results for breast cancer. [Right: Liliana and her partner]

“One lump was left behind as it was in an awkward position and the surgeons were, at that point, certain it was not cancerous.”

A month later on ANZAC Day Liliana broke and dislocated her leg, requiring surgery.

“I ended up with six screws and a plate in my leg. I was also using anticoagulants so that delayed the surgery to remove the lump left behind in my breast.”

Life went on and Liliana started her new graduate RN position at a hospital she liked, but the lump kept growing and her surgeon was concerned. In March 2015, Liliana underwent a partial mastectomy.

“The lump had grown and was in a very awkward spot, hence the need for a mastectomy. But as the biopsy had come back negative for cancer we were hoping that would be the end of it.”

It wasn’t. In July 2015 a biopsy was performed on the remaining lump, finding it to be cancerous. Liliana returned to hospital at the end of July for a total mastectomy and insertion of a tissue expander for reconstruction.

“There was plenty of good news. It was an encapsulated type (DCIS) of breast cancer and had not spread to the lymph nodes. All tissue was removed so there was no need for chemotherapy or radiation.”

For the 47-year-old, monitoring will continue to ensure she remains cancer-free.

“I am lucky I had my partner, my family [right] and friends with me and lucky I can share my story with you. It has been two very emotional years and the adventure continues.”

Watch Liliana in the short film below of cancer survivors talking about their daily lives. Are you a nurse or midwife who’s had cancer? Contact us with your story or share in comments below.

MOMENTS – Cancer Council from Bondi Films on Vimeo.

Thanks to the Cancer Council for permission to repost Liliana’s story.

Get in touch with the team if you need cancer information or support.

Previously on Nurse Uncut:

1 COMMENT

  1. Hi, I was diagnosed with invasive lobular breast cancer in 2009. I had come home from working a night shift and following a shower my husband commented that my right breast looked weird. I will never forget looking at myself in the mirror and lifting my right arm, I saw the dimpling and straight away knew I had cancer. A visit to my GP the next day and sent for a mammogram, I was then told there was a mass which was biopsied one day after my mammogram and 24 hours later my cancer was confirmed. I was also told at this point that there were 3 tumours. I saw the surgeon 2 days later and he informed me that a mastectomy was my only option as one of the tumours was close to my chest wall. So what followed was 9 months, which included surgery (right mastectomy with auxiliary clearance, 1 positive node) chemo and radiotherapy. I have since had reconstruction and an elective mastectomy of my left breast. As seems to be the rule with nurses, I have had several complications but am doing well and take every day as a blessing. I have also never been prouder to be a nurse. Being on the other side of the bed so to speak has given me a renewed pride in our profession and all that we do and have to deal with.

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