Paula and Sue share their breast cancer experience to help others

March 10, 2021

As our Tickled Pink breast cancer charity campaign marks its 25th anniversary, colleagues Sue Russell and Paula Silvester have this simple message: "Please check yourselves regularly and see your GP as soon as possible if you notice any changes however small they are."

Paula, who's 57, and 59-year-old Sue, who work at our Frome store, have both fought breast cancer and are avid supporters of Tickled Pink which raises funds and awareness for Breast Cancer Now and CoppaFeel!.

Cash office colleague Paula, who has been clear from breast cancer for 11 years, noticed a change in her left breast while checking herself in the shower in June 2009.

She said: "I found some lumps that didn't seem right so I went to the doctor. At first they thought it was hormone related and gave me some tablets but they didn't clear so I was sent to me to the local breast clinic in Bath.

"They did a biopsy and it went from there really. I did my chemotherapy first to reduce the size of the growth – it was more like a mound really, about 4cm – and than I had a mastectomy.

"My mum had had breast cancer the year before and had just had her first year all-clear when I was diagnosed. It was at the back of my mind anyway with my mum going through it I suppose.

"It was traumatic when I found out – it's like a black cloud. The first thing you think when someone tells you that you have cancer is that you are going to die. I had a young child, Alice, who was six at the time, and you think you are not going to see them grow up.

"I support Tickled Pink as much as I can and always try to help and I'm always on hand to give advice to colleagues.

"I always tell people that if you find something during your regular checks, please don't just think it will go away. The longer you leave it the less chance you've got of being where I am now. Ninety-nine per cent of the time it will be nothing, but it's always better to get it looked it.

"A colleague's wife was diagnosed a couple of years ago and I was able to sit down with him and talk him through what was going to happen. I like to tell people that having breast cancer is not a death sentence. I've been clear now for 11 years."

Checkouts colleague Sue, who has worked as our Frome store for 13 years, was diagnosed with breast cancer just after her 50th birthday.

She said: "They found a lump during a routine mammogram but I expected it to just be fatty tissue so was so shocked when they said it was cancer. It really came out of the blue, but you know I just said to myself that you've got to get on with it."

Within weeks she was taken into hospital for a lumpectomy and then radiation treatment.

"I was off work six months then came back to work and had a stroke and was off for another six months. Asda was very, very supportive, and colleagues too. We are a small store and like a big family. A lot of us have worked there for many years."

Sue, who has a son Ashley, 34, said: "My message to people would be always check yourself regularly and if you get a letter to go for a mammogram, you go! And if you find anything unfamiliar then contact your GP straight away. Don't delay it. Just go."

Sue is a staunch supporter of Tickled Pink, always buying the fundraising merchandise each year including the special T-shirts. She also knows how much it means to our customers too.

She said: "Being on checkouts with the collecting buckets there I can see just how many customers support it by putting in their money. It's a fantastic cause."

The store's community champion Jackie Bryant, who co-ordinates fundraising events for Tickled Pink, said: "Our colleagues are always 100 per cent behind our Tickled Pink events. Some are fundraising and some raising awareness.

"A massive thank you to all the customers and colleagues who donate and get involved in this incredibly worthy cause."

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