Hello everyone, my name is Sheelagh, I am 54 and have 2 beautiful daughters and a wonderful husband who is also my best friend. We moved to Manchester from Lincoln at the beginning of 2018. I remember last Spring sitting in our new garden, enjoying the sun, thinking how lucky I was, I loved where we had moved to and everyone was settled and happy, now it was my turn to go out and make new friends.
I joined a new doctors practice, which resulted in an out of cycle mammogram in June, only 2 years since my previous one in Lincoln.
One sunny July day I received a letter with an appointment date for me to go back to the Hospital. I wasn’t in the slightest bit worried as I could feel no lumps and I felt fit and healthy. My hospital appointment involved a biopsy in both breasts. Results - my right breast had calcifications which turned out to be benign there was high grade DCIS in my left breast - my consultant advised an immediate lumpectomy. I was devastated, it was illogical, no family history, scan 2 years ago, feeling fine, after all I ate sensibly, (maybe a little too much cake), exercised regularly, was not overweight, drank mainly in moderation, on occasion a bit too much Prosecco – Why me. On top of all this I was scared, scared of what’s next, the outcome and telling my family and what it would do to everyone.
My lumpectomy results found 22mm high grade DCIS and 5mm grade 2 invasive ductal cancer, fortunately without spreading to lymph nodes. I was ER PR positive, HER2 negative. My treatment included Chemotherapy, I “cold capped” which although uncomfortable to start with I soon got used to it. I lost about 50% of my hair and sported a great comb over for a while! Radiotherapy followed.
This is of course an emotional and physical roller coaster andjust as I thought I could see light at the end of my tunnel, my younger sister was diagnosed with Lobular breast cancer. She had to have a mastectomy and thankfully no further treatment apart from Tamoxifen. She had the BRCA test, it came back negative, what a blessing.
I somehow feel pretty lucky that I was caught early, I had fantastic hospital care and minimal side effects. Through chemotherapy, I stayed active, walked and did some yoga. My family and friends have been an amazing support throughout my treatment. I attended a “Back to Better” course which has given me some great tools for the future, along with a monthly breast cancer support group that I find great support.
My sister in law had breast cancer over 10 years ago, she told me recently that having breast cancer is like you are part of a special club and that’s exactly how it feels.
Without the support of club members I would have been in a different place, I am committed to making sure that anyone else joining this club has access to as much support and friendship that you can get to help you on your journey.
So I did make friends, some lovely friends throughout all of this and I am looking forward to making many more on our BooBee campaign. The research that Prevent Breast Cancer is doing is vital and I am hoping others, including my daughters, will benefit from any early detection breakthroughs that they make.
So my lessons, early detection through mammograms is vital – don’t miss them. History does not predict the future - have a check irrespective of family history. Cold capping is no fun - but it works. Don’t block out family and friends – their support will help you a lot.
In the end you are not alone, if you join our “special club” we will all be there to support as we have all been supported.