I was 35 when I found a lump in my breast.
I was getting married to Andrew and everything was planned for 29th September. I’d made my own dress and we were getting married in the church where I was christened and confirmed. It was also the church where my parents were married.
On the 5th September I found a lump in my breast. I went straight to the doctor. I had to go back home to the doctor because I hadn’t transferred my GP when I moved here. The doctor said to me “Oh it'll be something and nothing, probably a fibroadenoma and some women just have lumpy breasts”. I burst into tears and said I don't have lumpy breasts and I’m getting married this month. The GP got me an appointment with a surgeon, and I went to see the surgeon that afternoon. The surgeon told me to return the following day and he would remove the lump. A week later I went back to see the surgeon and he gave me the news…. he told me the lump was malignant. I was devastated I didn't know what was going to happen. He talked about mastectomies, possible spread of the cancer and he also said, “I understand you're getting married soon I hope you're not planning a family”.
I thought this was the end of my world and we were planning a family. I didn't know what was going to happen, I'm just about to get married and I didn't want to lose a breast. I cried for 2 days but then I decided I've got to look after the rest of me. It is important to be strong and well to survive this. The following week I had to go and have tests to see whether there be any spread of the cancer. The good news was it hadn't spread, it was a very small lump caught early. But we still didn't know about treatment and future children. I gave Andrew the option of cancelling our wedding so he could find someone else, but he said he would stick with me, no matter what the future held.
I was really worried about getting to the bit of the wedding service which talked about having children. But I don't even remember it being there. I only found out later that it wasn’t! Andrew and my Mum had talked to the rector and removed that section of the ceremony.
After our honeymoon, I went back to the GP and I said that I'd like to see a specialist in breast surgery. His answer was that you saw a general surgeon and he should be fine. I insisted that I wanted to see a breast specialist. I went to see a lady who was lovely who said wonderful things like the cancer has not spread and so you don't need a mastectomy. And the treatment should not affect your fertility. All you need is radiotherapy.
So, from the end of the world in September, there was hope In October. I had another operation to remove further breast tissue to leave a clear margin. And she said leave it a year or two after the treatment before you try and have children. My course of radiotherapy finished on the Saturday before Christmas so we looked forward to a new year.
In August that year I said to my husband I think we ought to try this getting pregnant as I'm not getting any younger, I'm 36 now. We don’t know how long it will take. September – the pregnancy test was positive! And never mind one baby, another arrived 16 months later. So, from thinking we may not be able to have children, just 3 years after our wedding we had 2!
I breast fed both children with one breast. When breastfeeding my first, I noticed that I was getting discharge from the treated breast. Back to the consultant, another operation as the mammogram showed calcification and she took more breast tissue away. Another 6 years later a mammogram showed further calcification and so the time had come to fully remove the breast tissue that was left. I had a mastectomy and reconstruction. Being there for my children was much more important than having a breast.
I don't want to have that ever again and have regular mammograms on the untreated breast. I also started supporting Prevent Breast Cancer when it was first started as Genesis, before a brick had been even laid! I still support them today in many ways.
I found that lump nearly 29 years ago – September 1990. My babies are now 25 and 27 years old. Don’t believe everything doctors tell you!