Sarah Hall, 38, CoppaFeel! Boobette
Breast cancer and me
I’m ashamed to say that I wasn’t always a regular boob checker! It’s no excuse but being in my twenties meant that it just wasn’t really on my radar and I found my lump completely by chance. When I was told that I had breast cancer, a rush of cold air went through me and I just burst into tears. I had a rare subtype known as triple negative breast cancer. Plus, I had the BRCA1 mutation, passed on from my dad’s side, which is why I got diagnosed with breast cancer so young. What frightened me the most was the fact I had no control over the situation, I was afraid of not making my next birthday and, at 27 years old, that’s pretty terrifying. I was told that I would definitely need chemotherapy and I remember grabbing onto my hair and saying “I’m going to lose my hair”. How shallow and insignificant that seems now.
I was offered the full whack of treatment and I took it. Over 9 months, I started off with chemotherapy, then a double mastectomy, finishing with 15 sessions of radiotherapy.
2 weeks after my diagnosis I started a blog, which I shared on Facebook. It was too exhausting messaging everyone separately so this was a great central hub to keep everyone in the loop.
I have just celebrated 2 years of being cancer free, including having my 30th birthday. Call to action I know many of my friends are now checking their boobs regularly because of what happened to me, and I want everyone to regonise just how important it is, no matter your age.
Ensure you know you to correctly copp-a-feel by logging on to www.coppafeel.org/avon/getting-to-know-your-boobs/. To find out more about the AVON Breast Cancer Promise visit: www.avon.uk.com/causes.
Cathy Hoyle, 50, Avon Associate
Breast cancer and me
I wasn’t great at checking my boobs regularly, but noticed a lump whilst having a shower. Once I spoke to the doctor, I got a referral and hospital appointment the next day. Things moved pretty quickly from then and they confirmed that I had grade three breast cancer.
My surgery went ahead, meaning the cancer was removed from my body, and I thought that was it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be… Over the course of three weeks, the cancer had grown from 11mm to 28mm and spread to my lymph node. I made the decision to have all of my Lymph Nodes removed under my right arm to ensure it couldn’t spread further. At this point, I was also told that I would need to have both Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy. Luck was on my side, after the second round of surgery, we managed to get a cancer clear margin and no more lymph nodes were affected, but the next stage was chemotherapy… This sent me into menopause, meaning hot flushes became a regular occurance and my taste buds were ruined. A month of radiotherapy followed. I had to moisturize my skin regularly to prevent it burning and becoming red and inflamed. Treatment is over, but I will be on drugs for the next 5 years. My ovaries have been closed down completely to ensure the cancer inducing hormones do not return.
One of the worst things I have ever had to do is sit down and tell my children about the cancer.
In January 2017, I had my first annual mammogram and had the all clear. Incredible news! I want people to feel empowered to act as quickly as I did. If I hadn’t, and with the speed at which my cancer grew during the 3 weeks from initial examination to removal, I don’t know what the outcome would have been.
My advice is to check yourself regularly and if you do find something unusual don’t ignore, get it seen to immediately as it can literally be critical. Ensure you know you to correctly copp-a-feel by logging on to www.coppafeel.org/avon/getting-to-know-your-boobs/. To find out more about the AVON Breast Cancer Promise visit: www.avon.uk.com/causes.
Kreena Dhiman, 38, CoppaFeel! Boobette
Breast cancer and me
I had never checked my breasts prior to my diagnosis, and I was pretty unaware when it came to signs and symptoms of breast cancer. What finally got me to the doctor was an inverted nipple. I was diagnosed with grade 3, hormonally sensitive breast cancer. I had 2 tumours in my left breast, one we huge at 6cm and the second 2.5cm in diameter.
I got on the surgery, chemo and radiotherapy train. Initially, I underwent a single mastectomy and full node clearance on my left side. From there I underwent IVF to freeze embryos (in case chemotherapy stole my fertility). Afterwards there was chemo, and after chemo came Radiotherapy. A couple of months after radiotherapy I was back in surgery and had my second breast removed and a double dip flap reconstruction. (A boob using your own abdominal tissue). My biggest fear was hair loss. The more it fell out, the more of a victim I became and the less I recognised the girl staring back at me in the mirror.
I think saying you are ‘free from cancer’ is a really dangerous term to use. None of us know if we are free from it, or if we are somehow just keeping it at bay!
If I manage to change someone who isn't breast aware to check for abnormalities and potentially save a life then my work hasn't been in vain. We need to make breast checking instinctive. Ensure you know you to correctly copp-a-feel by logging on to www.coppafeel.org/avon/getting-to-know-your-boobs/. To find out more about the AVON Breast Cancer Promise visit: www.avon.uk.com/causes.