Sat 07 Oct 2017
The month of October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, it’s one of the most prevalent forms of cancer in the UK with it affecting both women and men although more common in the former.
Cancer, depending on the stage of diagnosis, is curable but it does still claim the lives of thousands of people every year. As with all cancers, breast cancer starts as mutated DNA cells that overtime can sometimes form into tumours; although not all tumours are cancerous, it’s always best to have anything suspicious checked.
For cases of breast cancer, the tumours as one would expect are initially found in the breasts and armpits but left untreated it can spread to other parts of the body.
Many people in the UK will be affected by cancer either with themselves getting a diagnosis or somebody they love getting one. Our Associate Director, Lisa, has agreed to share her story with us.
Lisa was diagnosed in 2012 and is due to be given the official all clear at the end of this year (2017) a full five years after her initial diagnosis. She has been married for 19 years and has two children.
Q: Before we started you said something interesting “It’s easier for the person going through it to deal than the people around you, as you’ve got something to do whereas they don’t” could you elaborate on that?
A: As a cancer patient you have a journey to get through.
Q: What stage were you diagnosed with?
A: Stage 2.
Q: How was your cancer initially detected?
A: In a very funny way. I detected a lump in my right breast, went to the doctors to have it checked out, had all the tests and it was found to be a cyst, but they had actually discovered cancer elsewhere.
Q: How did you feel when you first received the news?
A: Numb, Shocked, Angry. I felt I didn’t have time for this in my life.
Q: How did your family react to the news?
A: Devastated. Each and every one felt totally helpless. My husband was a rock, he attended everything with me, he was really strong and kept me positive, he even shaved my hair off for me which was very hard because it was really long and blonde.
Q: Tell me about your treatment process?
A: My first treatment was to have the lump removed but unfortunately it was then found to be in my lymph nodes as well so I then had to have another operation to have them removed as well.
I then had to have six very heavy sessions of chemo – which wipes you out. The chemo was the hardest thing to get through.
After that, I then had radiotherapy every day for four weeks in Leeds although the treatment only lasted a short amount of time the travelling as well made the days very long. My last radiotherapy was actually on Christmas Eve. From there I was put on Tamoxifen tablets which I am still taking.
Q: Did you face any obstacles during your treatment process, was there ever a moment when you thought about giving up?
A: Yes many times. When I was due to my chemo sessions my blood cells would drop so I then had to be admitted to hospital and put into isolation so as not to get any infections.
Q: Recently you mentioned another relative has been diagnosed, what’s the one piece of advice you have given that you wished you had received when you got your diagnosis?
A: To buy some front buttoning pyjamas, it's so hard to put them on over your head.
Breast cancer thankfully has a good survival rate if caught early and that continues to improve with every passing year but support for Breast Cancer charities are still vital
For further information or to get involved https://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/awareness-month
If you're worried about breast health or breast cancer you can call us free on 0808 800 6000.