I was pregnant when diagnosed with breast cancer

"Life itself is so fragile. If you lose your health you lose your career, or even the ability to take care of your family. Yet, being sick has got me reflecting upon the meaning of life," muses Gigi as she reflects on life after breast cancer. 

Gigi was enjoying the height of her career and family life - with a baby due in a few months - when she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, which instantly cast her into an abyss.


"I just couldn't stop asking 'why me?' and it took months for me to accept the fact that I was sick."

Gigi has always been a health-conscious person, conducting her own breast self-examinations now and then. When she was seven months pregnant she felt a lump in her breast but the gynaecologist brushed it off as hyperplasia of the mammary glands. Gigi assumed that she was all right until the lump felt like it was growing bigger with her pregnancy. "Breast cancer" crossed her mind again and she resolved to have the lump removed during her caesarean delivery of her baby. As it turned out, Gigi’s suspicions were confirmed.

"I was still terrified by the gynaecologist's oversight, and I wonder if the cancer would have been stage 1 if diagnosed a few months earlier?" said Gigi.  Her experience is a reminder that gynaecologists differ from breast specialists. One should always consult doctors according to their specialties.

After consulting her doctor-in-charge, Gigi received chemotherapy prior to having a mastectomy, followed by yet another round of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.


Grateful to her husband and friends

At work Gigi kept her health condition private, advising her situation only to her secretary and immediate supervisor.


"I just didn't want to keep updating others about my health status," she said.

She was indeed thankful for an understanding employer. "My employer not only granted me paid leave, but also gave me a raise based on my past performance review.

"Ever since falling ill, what has meant the most to me has been the support of a few good friends. Every Friday, rain or shine, they visited me, or dragged me out to the park in case I got bored, or simply showed their concern with tearful eyes. I was so deeply touched by all their sisterly care," Gigi said.


In addition to the caring there is also the sharing. One of Gigi's friends who had breast cancer during her youth was the first person Gigi turned to for support when she herself was diagnosed.  Her friend’s past experience enabled her to give Gigi timely encouragement and relief. 

Gigi also received extensive care and support from her husband since falling ill. He took care of the family finances and daily affairs, keeping Gigi on her toes and daily routine. At first, Gigi just couldn't help feeling upset as she felt her husband was being too practical, too rational. Over time though, she realised that it was exactly this "life-as-usual" attitude that gave Gigi the support and encouragement to live like she wasn't ill at all. 

"I have actually shared how I felt about my husband with the counsellors at HKBCF. Then they told me about how other husbands would cry with their wives, to no avail. Looking back on what he did, I do feel that's the best he could have ever done," reflected Gigi.

Gigi has since completed her treatment and is back to work as usual.  She has made a few lifestyle changes such as avoiding high-fat food, taking up Tai Chi, and adopting a more relaxed approach to life. 

"I used to consider myself an optimist, until I fell ill and faced all the negative thoughts. It was how I insisted on having the perfect career, family, education, and children that put my life under a lot of stress," she said.

"These days, whenever I get busy, I make an effort to take a break and relax a little. For instance, I'd rather go out for lunch with colleagues than ordering a lunch box and eat at my desk."