Émilie Jubinville’s story

Share on

Triple-negative breast cancer

Émilie Jubinville’s story

My name is Émilie and I’m 30 years old. Three years ago, while on holiday, I felt a small and unusual lump in my breast. I had already been in the habit of checking my breasts for several years, because I had been made aware by a media story (featuring Mitsou!) that I had seen in high school. I had my boyfriend touch it, but he didn’t feel anything. Three weeks later, the lump had grown. I called my family doctor, who gave me an appointment a week later.

In her office, she touched my breast without symptoms, and then the other side where the lump was to compare. Her face suddenly changed, and I knew right away that there was a problem. She asked me how long the lump had been there and if it hurt. In fact, it wasn’t painful at all (it was about 1 cm in size). My doctor nevertheless reassured me and prescribed an ultrasound. I was extremely lucky, as I got an appointment three weeks later for this examination, although I had been warned that the wait time could be two to three months.

On the day of the ultrasound, I was told right away that it looked like a nodule, specifically a fibroadenoma. They thought it was benign; I was told not to stress. The biopsy took place four days later. Then began the agonizing wait for the biopsy result… In my case, it took three weeks. Three ENDLESS weeks. I felt very alone while waiting. The people around me who knew about it told me it had to be benign, that I was too young to have breast cancer, that it just couldn’t be, at my age, and that if it was, it was probably a “good” cancer that would be easily cured.

When my family doctor finally called me, she told me I needed to see a breast specialist. This was in November, already three months after I discovered the lump. My boyfriend accompanied me to meet the doctor, who told me I had cancer. Strangely enough, I already knew. It was as if I could feel it; that there was an intruder inside me.

I was then told that I had triple-negative breast cancer, a very aggressive form. Wanting to know more about the next steps, I asked: “Will I be having chemo for sure? So much so that I lose my hair?” My doctor told me that yes, I would lose all my hair. From that point on I was completely taken care of and I didn’t have to make any more calls. I was put in touch with my oncologist and given all my appointments for blood tests and scans.

I had been doing breast self observation for at least 10 years. In high school, in the story with Mitsou, we were told that no matter how old we were, it was important because it would help us know our breasts. Today, I’m really grateful that I followed that advice.

I had been with my boyfriend for seven years when I was diagnosed, and he was very supportive. At my appointment with the oncologist, I was told that this type of cancer could prevent me from having children because the treatment could make me infertile. The oncologist wanted to start treatment as soon as possible, but I wanted to freeze my eggs. He said to me: “Émilie, your eggs are useless if you are no longer there. We’re at that point.” Still, he gave me a few days and we did the fertility process quickly in four days with the injections at home. My eggs were retrieved on Thursday and on Friday I started my chemo: it lasted five months and I had 16 treatments.

The care was wonderful; I didn’t wait. Mentally, I was fine. I even told my boyfriend that the doctors must have the wrong file, because I was doing so well. That was until December 23, when I lost my hair, 22 days after the first treatment. I cried when my boyfriend shaved my head. It was also hard to tell my parents and relatives. When people cry, you want to console them. My treatments went well. Honestly, it’s like I was in another world during that period.

In my case, there were no genetic factors related to the cancer. I had to undergo radiotherapy: I received 20 treatments, five days a week for a month. I also had to take oral chemo for six months because after the surgery there were still six to seven spots.

My boyfriend was very supportive, never leaving me alone. In the end, it brought us very close together.

When my treatments were finished, I was in a strange state of mind. I even missed it. I was well received by the nurses and I also missed the people there who understood my emotions and my questions. The aftermath is often forgotten in breast cancer care. But personally, I felt very alone. I keep asking myself: is it because I’m younger that it’s harder to get on with my life?

The risk of recurrence is high for triple-negative cancer like I had. I have a lot of follow-ups and the anxiety is still there.

I returned to work in 2020, but I haven’t completely regained the shape I was in before.

That’s why you have to prevent it, and the best way to do so is to do breast self observation. You can’t assume that it just happens to other people. The younger you are, the more aggressive it is and the more important it is. Two minutes in your week can save your life.

Learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of breast cancer