October is the month of the fight against breast cancer. We have already told you what you should know about this disease and what methods of diagnosis and prevention are the most effective. Now we decided to turn to personal experience and talked with Irina Tanaeva, who was diagnosed with breast cancer two and a half years ago. Irina talked about how her illness changed her life, about the struggle and how it helps her stay optimistic. The editors would like to thank the "Cool against breast cancer" project for their help in preparing the material.
In October 2013, I suddenly felt a rather large seal in my chest, which appeared as if instantly. It didn't bother me, didn't hurt, but I still went to the doctor. In a paid clinic where I was observed, I was examined by a mammologist-oncologist - there was no reason not to trust her. I had an ultrasound scan, and the doctor said it was fibroadenoma. I asked for a puncture, but the doctor refused: they say, there is nothing wrong and I can sleep peacefully until the next visit. I have always trusted the specialists, it never entered my head to go somewhere else, to doubt, to double-check. Now, looking back, I understand that I was very careless about my health and myself. I didn't think about the bad: since the doctor said so, then everything is fine.
I was supposed to come to the next examination in three months. I continued to live in the same regime, absolutely not doubting that I was healthy. My family and I went to the sea - it was a long-awaited vacation in a wonderful place. It was there that I felt pains in the chest area - sharp, shooting - it greatly alarmed and frightened me. From that moment on, these sensations became regular. Returning to Moscow, I again went to the doctor, but this time at a specialized mammological center.
Two and a half years have passed, and I still find it unbearable to remember. February 16, 2014 will forever remain in my memory as the day that changed everything in my life. Then I just turned 31 years old, not only me, but also my husband was invited to the doctor's office - then I still did not understand why. “You probably have cancer,” the doctor said. I didn’t hear anything else, the words only sounded in my head: “Cancer is death, I am dying”. I cried a lot, did not understand anything, I thought, how can I leave my six-year-old son. These were the hardest minutes, there are no words to describe them: shock, despair, horror, fear - all this at once, in an instant, fell on me, and what to do with it, I did not know then.
Everything was difficult - but if the physical pain could be endured, then I had to work seriously with my psychological state
We left the hospital and caught a taxi, drove almost in silence - I was crying, and my husband hugged me to him. At home my son and my mother were waiting for us. I didn't know what to say to her, so I went home and calmly, without crying, announced that I had cancer. In response, I heard a confident: "We will cure." Mom held out, restrained herself and never cried in front of me. I know how much she worries, but she never talks to me about the disease. How dad reacted, I do not know - I was protected from all this, they did not lisp with me, did not regret, we all continued to live as before. At least we tried to live like this, but the disease brought many changes to our plans.
We started looking for good doctors. We did not immediately find those whom we eventually trusted, but I am happy that it happened. The first person I got to see was an oncologist-surgeon Evgeny Alekseevich Troshenkov, who works at the P.A.Herzen Moscow Cancer Research Institute. After a couple of minutes of communication, I realized that this was my doctor. Evgeny Alekseevich told everything in great detail, showed me, examined, and most importantly - calmed me down, instilled hope and confidence in a good treatment result.Leaving the office, he said: "We will cure, we will definitely cure!" For the next year and a half, I repeated these words like “Our Father”. My husband and I left him with smiles on our faces, both unanimously said: "This is him." I didn't think about anything else: my doctor decided everything for me, he gave clear instructions - which examinations to undergo, what to do and where to do it. I was no longer scared, I didn’t doubt my victory for a second. I gained patience and went into battle.
My diagnosis was T4N0M0 breast cancer: I had a fairly impressive tumor, but the lymph nodes were not affected, and no metastases were found either. Cancer type - HER2 (+++), stage 3B. I underwent chemotherapy at the N. N. Blokhin Russian Cancer Research Center; I got into CI - clinical research, where they tested the effectiveness of a new drug in comparison with another existing on the market. The treatment went according to the plan outlined by my chemotherapist. I underwent eight courses of chemotherapy: every 21 days I was injected with drugs that affect tumor cells. After all courses, the tumor decreased significantly.
Then a radical skin-preserving mastectomy followed with a one-step reconstruction with a tissue expander (a temporary silicone implant, the volume of which can be increased by filling it with a special solution; later it is replaced with a lifelong implant) - my left breast and 13 lymph nodes were removed. Then there was radiation therapy (exposure of tumor cells to ionizing radiation), and six months after the mastectomy, I underwent reconstructive breast surgery. A year after chemotherapy, I received a targeted drug that blocks the growth and spread of malignant cells, and is also used prophylactically to prevent relapse.
Everything was difficult - but if the physical pain could be endured, then I had to work seriously with my psychological state. I tried to persuade myself, sometimes I felt sorry, cried - I did everything so that my depressed state did not pass to others. My illness practically did not affect my family and friends. I continued to live as before, worked hard with the child, prepared him for school. She always smiled, was always positive, sometimes she consoled her relatives herself, because they were also having a hard time. The pain from the treatment cannot be conveyed in words - it was very scary, very difficult, at times it seemed to me that I was at the limit of my capabilities. I don’t know which was more difficult - chemotherapy or radiation therapy: both I tolerated extremely poorly.
Two operations were the easiest for me - against the background of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, the pain from them seemed to me like mosquito bites. I very much asked to remove both breasts - I wanted to get rid of them so that not a trace of cancer would remain. I am very grateful to my surgeon: he did not want to hear anything about complete removal, he said that I was young and that I still had to live on. Evgeny Alekseevich promised that he would do everything as it should, and asked me not to worry about anything - I did not ask any more questions. Now I have wonderful breasts, very beautiful, it suits me very much - especially since the bonus to everything was breast augmentation, which I myself asked the doctor about. My perception of myself has changed a lot: I stopped seeing only shortcomings in myself, learned to perceive myself adequately, not to be offended by myself, not to wait, but to do everything now - after all, tomorrow a new day will come and new desires will come. I fell in love with myself - maybe not completely, but I fell in love with my body, my new breasts, scars. I like everything about myself now, despite the gained weight, the painful appearance, the lack of hair. I love myself, period.
Now I give myself exactly five minutes to cry and feel sorry for myself - there is no more time or desire
During treatment in 2014, I really missed communication with people like me. My family could not fully understand the depth of my feelings, I basically did not read the Internet and seemed to be in an information vacuum.Once, in severe depression, I posted a photo of myself with a bald head on social networks and wrote: "Sometimes cancer changes us beyond recognition." For a long eight months I hid my illness from everyone, many did not even know where I had disappeared so suddenly. Of course, those around me were shocked, many people preferred to stop writing and communicating with me, but this is their right and their choice.
After that, on my Instagram page, I began to keep an oncology diary: I told what was happening to me, how the treatment was going. Gradually, I began to find girls and young people with oncology just like me. We supported each other, gave advice, learned something new about treatment. I have always been a very kind person, I always wanted to help, and then I suddenly found a use for my big kind heart. I really sincerely empathize with everyone who is faced with oncology, I treat them with great respect and love. For me they are all heroes, fighters, winners.
It all started small. First, I came up with the hashtag # bewaremybanda, thanks to which people with oncology began to communicate and get to know each other. Then she began to arrange small meetings. In October 2015, every day on my Instagram page, I published stories of women with breast cancer. Thanks to this idea of mine, many have realized that they are not alone - there are many of us, and that even with such a diagnosis, you can fully live and enjoy every day. I called my action #project_Goodpeople. Anya Yakunina, like other girls, sent me her story - then I was struck by her courage and love of life. Already together, we began to arrange small events, master classes and just get-togethers in a cafe. These were warm, sincere meetings, after which I really wanted to live. Many, after communicating with us, ceased to be ashamed of their illness, appearance, began to speak openly about themselves, boldly walk bald, not afraid of sidelong glances. Many, looking at us, began to understand that cancer is not the end of life, but just a stage of it that can be passed.
Once we met with Anya in a cafe and talked for four hours - we were just bursting with the desire to help people with oncology. We decided to organize a small support club for cancer patients, where we will not talk about the disease, and anyone who wants, on the contrary, even for a moment, will be able to get away from all their problems. The question with the name was not even raised: we decided to become a communication club "Good people". Anya and I were united by oncology, and now we have become real friends. Our club is special - it's a friendly family, where you are always welcome, you are always welcome, where you will always be understood without words: there is no need to explain anything, we ourselves went through it all.
We want to show by our example that oncology is not a sentence, that during treatment you can and should lead a normal life, work, if possible, go in for sports, walk, have fun and make plans for the future. Our goal is to change the attitude towards illness. Throughout the year, we take part in various projects and organize events ourselves. We invite specialists and experts to our meetings, who conduct charity master classes in makeup, facials, fitness gymnastics, dancing, painting, floristry, and handicrafts. Sometimes we arrange regular gatherings in cafes or picnics, go to cities near Moscow, organize excursions to historical sites.
With the support of our friend, stylist Peter Levenpole, our club made a photo project "You are special". It was attended by 30 women who were diagnosed with cancer. 30 examples of courage - different people who faced despair, fear, depression, but did not give up and found the strength to overcome the disease! Among them there are those who have not yet finished the struggle, but are close to recovery. We believe that by joint efforts we will be able to support women with a difficult diagnosis and attract the attention of others, because prevention and early diagnosis are the key to successful treatment and complete recovery.
In August 2015, I finished my treatment.It was such happiness, such euphoria! I wanted to run through the streets, hug passers-by and tell everyone that I could, I won. I began to enjoy every second without cancer, I enjoyed the sun, rain, wind, smiles, every morning I woke up in a great mood. I blissed out absolutely everything, every little thing caused a storm of emotions in me. It turns out that we live and we simply do not notice or appreciate a lot around us. But life itself is amazing and beautiful.
Too much honor for this cancer, talk, pity, tears - all of this is not for me
My amazing remission lasted seven months. Ironically, on February 16, 2016, exactly two years after my diagnosis, I was diagnosed with liver metastases. It was a big blow, very unexpected. It seems that you know everything, you have already gone through everything, but it's hard to put it all in your head. I gave myself three days: I cried, roared, hysterical, buried myself. Three days later she pulled herself together and went to fight. And again chemotherapy, unbearable, much more difficult than the previous one - six courses. I withstood, withstood everything and continued to live. Metastases disappeared after the third course. There is no cancer in me, although, of course, all this is conditional and he can return at any second. But I believe and even know that this will not happen. Every 21 days, I need to drip targeted drugs until the effect is effective - this can last two or three years, and maybe even more.
Fighting metastases was much easier for me emotionally and psychologically. Of course, I have breakdowns, sometimes I am terribly bored with this cancer life with a constant war for the drug, these endless examinations, tests, control. Sometimes it seems to me that I live in an oncologic dispensary, but I do not allow myself to become limp, I always keep myself in good shape, control my treatment and carefully monitor my health. Yes, in our country there are a lot of problems with the treatment of oncology - it is simply impossible to describe them in a nutshell, this is a topic for a separate conversation. And I don’t want to complain, because it’s difficult to influence it. Thank you for being treated with great difficulty.
Despite everything, I manage to maintain an optimistic attitude. How? It's simple: I don't dwell on my illness. Cancer is just my parallel life, nothing more. I love my bald head, and although I really wait for my hair to grow back, now everything suits me. Of course, it's better not to know what cancer is at all, but what happened happened. This is a very unpredictable disease, and you can't joke with it, but you shouldn't succumb to it either. It takes a strong spirit to fight and win. Now I give myself exactly five minutes to cry and feel sorry for myself - there is no more time or desire. The disease is trying to penetrate into my life, but it will not succeed in breaking me down: as much as necessary, I will fight as much! Metastases made it clear to me: live here and now, do not look into the distance, enjoy every second, breathe deeply. Tomorrow is tomorrow. We are not insured against anything. Too much honor for this cancer, talk, pity, tears - all of this is not for me.
Over the next week, you can support the global fight against breast cancer
All that is required is to commit one striking act: temporarily change the hair color to pink, that is, the international color of the fight against breast cancer.
From October 20 to October 27, any reader or reader of Wonderzine will be able to sign up for a free temporary coloring in one of the partner salons of the promotion, calling the code word #pinkwondercheck… Depending on the salon, the hair will be painted with a special crayon, spray or unstable paint that will be washed off in a couple of weeks.
By posting your new image on Instagram with the hashtags #pinkwondercheck and #breastcancer, you can help raise awareness and highlight the need for prevention and timely screening. After all, making the problem visible and discussed is already an important step towards its solution.
Specify the conditions of the promotion in the salons by the indicated phones.
Staropimenovskiy per., 6, +7 (929) 698–96–42
Efi Beauty House
Cut and Color
B. Novodmitrovskaya st., 36, Flacon design plant. On the territory of 2 buildings, 2nd floor, +7 (495) 646–68–36
1st Tverskaya-Yamskaya st., 28, +7 (985) 916-60-69
Novodevichy Ave., 4, +7 (916) 159-23-23
B. Kozikhinsky lane, 22, +7 (495) 699–82–32
color bar ColBa
Beauty Studio "Britana"
st. Mashkova, +7 (495) 623–82–82
Photos: personal archive