“Today I am cured and married. Next year I will be released to take a break from medication and get pregnant. After the baby is born, I resume the medication.” These are the words of pharmaceutical representative Fátima Albuquerque, a resident of Brasília (DF), now 37 years old. Despite the positive result of the treatment against breast cancer, the diagnosis changed a series of plans that she had designed for her life.
Fátima says that she was born into a humble family and always fought hard to achieve her dreams. “I was preparing for an exchange in Canada. I already had everything organized. Ticket, school, money. But the trip didn’t happen,” she recalls, explaining that she discovered the disease in 2021. “I felt my breast different, but no one could find the changes,” she describes.
In consultation with a gynecologist, she reported the changes in the breast. The doctor requested an ultrasound and the result did not indicate any image changes. “I found it strange, because previous tests showed transient water cysts, which come and go, but these new machines could not see these cysts either”, says Fátima, who insisted with another doctor and asked for a new ultrasound. “I did a new exam, which also didn’t indicate anything wrong. I changed clinics again, but they didn’t see any changes in my breast either”, she recalls.
In December, almost 11 months after the first ultrasound, Fátima still wanted a more specific exam. It was through an MRI with contrast that she discovered the 1.3 centimeter tumor.
Fátima took the results to the gynecologist, who immediately referred her to a breast specialist. This professional requested an exam called mammotomy and directed her to another doctor, a specialist in identifying tumors. “Just touching the ultrasound to the breast, he already saw the tumor. I waited a few days until the result of the biopsy came out. I remember that it was 7:30 am when I opened the report and there it was: invasive breast carcinoma”, he reports.
“I always knew I had something different in my breast, but when I saw the diagnosis, my floor opened up. I was very desperate”, she admits. “I found a breast reconstruction specialist who is oncoplastic. He asked me for a battery of tests and advised that I freeze eggs, because I might have to undergo chemotherapy. I agreed. When I finished the process, we scheduled the surgery. He managed to remove the tumor and the sentinel lymph node through the armpit. Because it is oncoplastic, it did not affect the structure of my breast so much. Everything was again for biopsy and the results were already better. The markers that signaled chemotherapy came much lower”, he recalls.
Even with everything going apparently well, Fátima was afraid of the tumor coming back, as she chose not to remove her breasts. “I didn’t remove it because I was afraid. A relatively simple surgery could become a big problem, if there was tissue necrosis or something similar. I also thought a lot about the stigma of hair loss, of feeling very sick due to chemotherapy. But in the end, the doctor gave me the news that I wouldn’t need chemo”, he says.
Still, Fátima underwent radiotherapy. “I had 18 sessions: 15 on the breast and armpit and another three for reinforcement in the armpit. I think this was the heaviest treatment. I have very sensitive skin. It felt like a sunburn, so I had to apply compresses, apply ointments and medicines. It was not easy, but in July 2021, I finished the radiotherapy sessions and already started endocrinotherapy to take a hormonal blockade. This was necessary because the tumor that appeared in my breast has receptors for progesterone and estrogen. this blocker for five years”, he explains.
The medication has serious side effects, but Fatima remained confident. “God took care of me in the details. Despite the diagnosis of breast cancer, I met a wonderful person, who is now my husband, Anderson. We discovered the disease together. He was with me throughout this process, a partnership that was crucial for me to take the treatment more lightly, even more so after ending a long marriage. I was young and I was alone for a long time. But today I am cured, married and I am going to have my baby”, she says, emotional, explaining that the medication still needs to be administered for another two and a half years.
The exchange to Canada was also not forgotten. “I’m going to follow my dreams. Today I value things that I didn’t before the diagnosis. I look with much more affection for my mother, for my family”, she says. “I was very worried about how my mother would react to the diagnosis, how she would behave in relation to my treatment. I didn’t want her to suffer, but we have nowhere to run. But today, my relationship with her is much closer”, evaluates Fátima, adding that “the diagnosis comes with a great weight, but it brings people together and brings new meaning to many things”.
Fátima concludes with a message for other women. “Because I knew so much, I knew there was something wrong. So be insistent, get to know each other, look for health professionals. Seek treatment. Touch your breasts. No one better than us to know our own body”, she defends.
Ministry of Health
Official content – Fact Check – Verified