Keen cyclist Denise Roberts has raised more than £20,000 for cancer charities over the years, but never thought she would need treatment for the disease herself.
Denise, who's 65 and lives near Loughborough, was diagnosed with Stage 1a triple negative breast cancer in August last year following a routine mammogram.
Denise previously completed charity cycle rides in Kenya, Cuba, Vietnam, Cambodia and Costa Rica, raising more than £20,000 for charities including our Tickled Pink charity partner Breast Cancer Now.
She said: “I went along for my mammogram, which was probably the fifth or sixth mammogram that I’d had, and had never had any problems. When the letter came through a few weeks later I just thought it would be to say everything was clear, so it was a real shock when they said they needed to do further tests. Even then I didn’t worry, as they said that only four out of 100 women who get recall letters will have cancer.
"I went for my appointment at the breast clinic at Glenfield Hospital and as people came and went after having their tests it started to dawn on me that I was probably going to be one of the four out of the 100.
"The surgeon told me that they had found a tiny amount of invasive cancer cells in my right breast plus what they call DCIS (Ductal carcinoma in situ) which is the pre-invasive cancer.
"I was quite numb when I was told, but he said that it had been caught at a very early stage and it was very treatable, and then produced a diagram of what he intended to do."
Denise had her surgery to remove the cells and breast reconstruction last September on the day of the Queen's funeral.
She then had 15 sessions of radiotherapy, which she finished in January this year, and was given the all clear.
Denise, who's been married to Jim for 43 years, has three grown-up children, Phil, Neil and Yvette, and two grandchildren, Arwen, who's six, and two-year-old Arya.
She said: "Everyone was so supportive. We have a family WhatsApp group so I put a message on there at first.
"It felt like it was happening to someone else. Jim and I just dealt with things as they came along and we tried to keep a sense of humour. The thing was that I wasn't ill, I felt perfectly well. I continued to cycle and went to the gym and looked after my grand-children in between hospital appointments. We just tried to keep things as normal as we could. Jim came to all the appointments he could with me."
She said one of the hardest parts for her was waiting to start treatment.
Denise said: "Once you come to terms with it you just want to get rid of it as soon as you can and come out the other side. There's a lot of tests and there's the waiting for results."
Because of the screening programme, Densie said she felt ‘incredibly lucky’ that she was able to be treated with the minimally invasive treatment. Denise felt like If her cancer was not diagnosed at such an early stage, her prognosis could have been much worse.
Denise, who until her retirement worked at De Montfont University Library in Leicester, said: "People should check themselves and go to their screenings. It's quite shocking when you realise that people just don't bother to go.
"You should always check your breasts even if you have no family history – particularly young people who aren't in the breast screening programme. You should check regularly not just for lumps, but for any changes to your breast.
"I was called back from a routine mammogram, but after I'd been diagnosed I noticed a tiny change to my nipple, that may have been the sign that I was starting to pick up, that it was starting to invert slightly.
"You shouldn't worry about how to check your breasts, it's more important to check them and there's no right or wrong way to do it, so just do whatever feels comfortable for you so that you will notice any changes. Just be aware of your own body and your own breasts."
Next month Denise will be taking part in the 360km Women V Cancer charity cycle ride from the Taj Mahal to Jaipur, which raises money for Breast Cancer Now, Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust and Ovarian Cancer Action.
Denise said: "This has been booked since before I got my diagnosis. The nurses all reassured me that they I would fine for it, and I am."
To sponsor Denise, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/denise-roberts23