I’ve worked at the Kingsthorpe store for 10 years and really love it there, as it’s a nice friendly place and I know a lot of the customers who come in … and you could say that I might not be here now if it wasn’t for my job.
I work on the front end, on checkouts and self scan. My job involves a bit of chatting to customers (which is fine by me!) and it’s a direct result of talking to a customer in the store that I got myself checked and was diagnosed with breast cancer.
I was 29 when I was diagnosed. I had been to see the doctor a year earlier when I spotted a lump in my breast. They sent me straight to hospital and took a biopsy of the lump, but the results came back saying it was benign. They said it was just a lump and diagnosed it as chronic mastitis.
The lump grew a bit, but because I’d had a biopsy I didn’t worry about it too much. Then one day I was talking to a customer in the store who’d had breast cancer and she said I should have it checked out again. I did, and was diagnosed with the aggressive grade three form of breast cancer.
If it wasn’t for that conversation I could have just left it and it would have been too late at a certain stage, so it’s really good I went back to the doctor. I’m really grateful for her advice – and so relieved that I listened to it.
I don’t know what made me go back to the doctor – I just did. After that conversation it seemed there were lots of programmes on television about breast cancer and all these signs were coming to me and I just had a feeling and went and got it checked out.
I had surgery, a lumpectomy and then I started chemo about a month later.
I had two children, Lily, who’s 13 now, and George, who’s 10, when I was diagnosed. The doctors told me that the chemotherapy would probably make me infertile, but I got pregnant with Ruby soon after I came off the tablet.
She’s nearly two now and having her was the best get well soon present – all my children have been a brilliant help.
One thing I think it’s important to make people aware of is that I managed to breast feed Ruby exclusively off one breast for six months. It’s something I never imagined I’d be able to do, and that I couldn’t find much information about at the time, so I’m really happy I was able to do it. It’s amazing what the body can do!
I feel well now, but my sister Holly is being treated for breast cancer at the moment, so I’m preparing myself for the idea that I’m probably going to have a mastectomy at some point.
When I was diagnosed there was no history of breast cancer in our family so they thought it was one of those things. Now my sister was diagnosed I’m being tested for the BRCA 2 gene, as it seems too much of a coincidence for us both to get breast cancer at a similar age. If the results come back as they expect I’ll have to have a mastectomy and have my ovaries removed as well, because if you carry that gene you have a 70% chance of getting breast cancer and a 40% chance of getting ovarian cancer.
Lily and Ruby will get tested for the gene when they’re 18 because if I have it there’s a 50% chance they’ll have it too. But breast cancer treatments are moving on all the time so by the time Ruby gets tested it’ll probably be a lot better.
When you’ve got children you’ve got no choice other than to stay positive and keep going. Before I was diagnosed I would feel really sorry for myself it I got flu or a cold, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt sorry for myself when going through this.
I’m really keen to raise awareness of Tickled Pink and think it helps to share your experiences with breast cancer and to tell people that you’ve been through it and are fine now.