Thursday, October 06, 2016

'I thought the only sign of breast cancer was a lump - I was wrong'

Kirsty Ward

October is breast cancer awareness month, below, 2 women share their stories on TelegraphUk:
Marianne Head, aged 26
I couldn't feel a lump. My partner and I had long been aware of a small dimple on my right breast and - just before Christmas in 2015 - he suggested I get it checked out ‘just to be on the safe side’.
A biopsy revealed that a 56mm cancerous tumour had been growing inside me. At 26-years-old, the doctors believed it would be best to give me thorough treatment to ensure this was nothing more than a small setback, in what could continue to be a healthy life. Since diagnosis, I have had six cycles of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, a lymph node clearance, and radiotherapy. It's been gruelling - but I feel blessed that my partner pushed me to go to the doctor when he did, and proud that I had the courage to do so.
As of September 2016, my tumour was successfully removed. I am now back at work, and using my experience to try and help the breast cancer charity CoppaFeel! to educate people to be aware of all the symptoms - not just feeling a lump.

Kirsty Ward, aged 38
I first noticed something was amiss with my right breast when I got a massive bruise under my nipple.

Fairly embarrassed (I'd never had my breasts examined at this point), I visited the GP and was diagnosed with a blocked milk duct and given a course of antibiotics. A few weeks passed, and I started to notice crusting and discharge from my nipple.  My breast was also very swollen.
For the second time, I visited my doctor, who told me I had an infection. 
A few weeks on, the symptoms were still there - if not worse - so I went to the GP for the third time. 
A fortnight later, I was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer.  The tumour was fibrous and was measured at 12cm.
I always thought breast cancer appeared in the form of a lump and that women my age weren't at risk. Now I'm determined to spread the word that this isn't the case - to other women and doctors, too.

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