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'It's brilliant to know I have all that support' – colleagues help Dannii after breast cancer diagnosis

As part of our Tickled Pink breast cancer charity campaign Dannii Connah, who's worked at our Kingswood store in Hull for 20 years, writes about being diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year, how colleagues have supported her, and how important it is to regularly check yourself...

By Dannii Connah

October 4, 2018 00:00pm
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I'm 40, and I'm usually a healthy person. I know you're supposed to check your breasts every month, but I admit I only used to check now and again.

Dannii Connah from Asda Kingswood in Hull with husband Tony
Dannii works at Asda Kingswood with her husband Tony

Then one Friday night in June I got out of the shower and I caught a lump with my hand. It was on the outside of my left breast, felt big and just didn't feel right. I waited until my husband Tony got home from work (he's part of the security team at Asda Kingswood where I work). He felt it and we agreed I needed to see a doctor.

The doctor said it felt like a cyst, but to be sure they sent me to the breast clinic at Castle Hill Hospital. My referral at the breast clinic was on 9th July and I'll never forget that day. They said they were going to do a biopsy, and as soon as I heard the word 'biopsy' terrible things started going through my head.

I tried to hold it together and when I was called back in and they told me straight out that the lump was cancer. I tried to run out of the room and then I started crying. I've never cried like that in my life. I said 'I've got four children, do whatever you need to do to me. I need to survive.'

I had to wait three weeks for the biopsy results to determine what stage the cancer was at and how I would be treated. That was the worst three weeks of my life. I googled the possible outcomes, which is the worst thing you can do because you end up with the worst possible prognosis.

The results came back and I had stage two, non-aggressive breast cancer. The cancer had travelled to a couple of my lymph nodes but nowhere else, which was a positive.

They started me on chemotherapy to try and shrink the lump, and also told me I needed a full mastectomy because they also found a couple of smaller lumps in the same breast which needed to be removed.

I've got four sessions of chemotherapy left, then radiotherapy, then the mastectomy, and then reconstructive surgery. They've told me I'm facing the worst year of my life but my cancer is curative, so touch wood the prognosis is good. I'm quite a positive person and will stay positive.

Dannii Connah from Asda Kingswood in Hull is supporting Tickled Pink
Colleagues show their support for Dannii and our Tickled Pink campaign

I'm in the admin team at Asda Kingswood and work alongside Tony. We've got four children together – Kimberley, who's 18, Bradley, 16, Liam, 10, and six-year-old Charlotte.

Our admin manager Paul Ashton has been absolutely fantastic. He just tells me to work what hours I can, and the HR manager Andrew Winter has been brilliant too – I couldn't ask for more support.

I've found I can still come in most days but have to work shorter hours because the chemotherapy makes you so fatigued and sick. I have 'nanna naps' at home all the time – I feel like my mum!

Dannii Connah at Asda Kingswood in Hull supports Tickled Pink
Colleagues Jon and Geoff are supporting Tickled Pink for Dannii

Colleagues have just been brilliant; they're very thoughtful. It's little things like saying I look nice when I feel horrible that mean so much.

I've also got quite a few close friends here who have said they'll help me however they can, and keep in touch out of work to see how I'm feeling.

I did 'Brave the Shave' in the store for Macmillan Cancer Support and I've raised just over £1,000 for them and also got a top up from the Asda Foundation and it's brilliant to know I have all that support behind me. If you'd like to sponsor me, I've got a JustGiving page here.

Dannii Connah from Asda Kingswood took part in Brave the Shave for Macmillan
Dannii had 12 inches of her hair shaved off for charity – and later had the rest cut off

I want to make a positive out of a negative – as well as raising money I want to make every woman aware that they need to check themselves on a regular basis. That's why it was so important to me to share my story. If it inspires other people to check themselves it will be worth it.

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