A mum-of-two is urging other women to get checked out, after undergoing gruelling breast cancer treatment herself.
Hayley Rock found a lump in her right breast in January 2017, but thought nothing of it, having previously had benign cysts removed.
She went to the doctors to get it checked out anyway – and after being referred to the breast clinic, she was officially diagnosed with the condition on Valentine’s Day last year, the Liverpool Echo reports.
The 41-year-old buying director from Runcorn said: "We’d just come back from holiday in Florida and I thought I might have jarred it on a ride or something, but I decided to go to the doctors anyway.
"When I was with the GP I wasn’t that worried really, but they said that all my cysts were in my left breast – but this was in my right.
"I had an appointment at the breast clinic and had a mammogram and ultrasound and they knew basically straight away it was a mass they weren’t happy with.
"I had to wait five days and then on February 14th I was told I had breast cancer and it was something I’ll never forget.
"I was devastated, words can’t really describe it, all I kept thinking about was my two little girls Emmy and Ava aged nine and eleven – I knew they needed their mum and I didn’t want to leave them."
Hayley’s consultant was very positive about her chances of survival having caught it early.
And Hayley had surgery within a week to remove the lump, which was successful – but the biopsy revealed the cancer was more aggressive than the doctors thought and on her 40th birthday consultants told a stunned Hayley she would have to undergo chemotherapy.
Hayley added: "When I first spoke to the consultant I thought I wouldn’t have to speak to the girls about my illness, I thought I’d just have the lump removed and then a bit of radiotherapy and that would be that.
"But when I was told I’d have to have chemotherapy I knew I’d have to tell them and that was the hardest thing about the whole process.
"I sat them down and they were just devastated, they asked so many questions and the main one was ‘are you going to lose your hair mummy’."
To protect her daughters and keep a sense of normality Hayley underwent chemotherapy wearing a cold cap – which means that cancer sufferers usually keep their hair.
The treatment means the chemo takes longer – but Hayley said it was vital for her.
She said: "I wanted to keep things as normal as possible for the girls, Ava was starting secondary school and I didn’t want her to have anything that made her stick out.
"I wanted to be a role model for my children and for other young women going through treatment to show them that yes it was bad, but that it wasn’t terrible.
Following her chemotherapy, Hayley underwent three weeks of radiotherapy and at the end of September this year had a risk-reducing hysterectomy.
Hayley’s story comes at the same time Breast Cancer Now research now shows that only 44% of women over 25 regularly check their breasts for signs of cancer.
As well as the tell-tale lump there are many other signs that could indicate cancer, which are listed below.
Breast Cancer symptoms
- a lump or lumpy area in the armpit, upper chest or breast – this may not be seen, but it might be felt
- changes to skin texture – such as puckering or dimpling to the skin of the breast
- change in the nipples – one nipple might become inverted (turned in) when it normally points outwards
- any unusual discharge from one or both nipples
- rash or crusting of the nipple or surrounding area
- colour change, such as redness or inflammation
- changes to the size or shape of the breast – one breast might become larger than the other
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