It’s likely we’ll all know someone who has been affected by breast cancer in our lifetime. And this year, because of COVID-19, it is estimated that more than 300 women in Wales alone are now living with undiagnosed cancer having missed potentially life-saving mammograms that could have detected breast cancer at an early stage.
Whether it’s your gran, mam, aunt, sister, friend or colleague; we know you love your tribe! Seeing someone you love going through breast cancer is devastating. And even men can get breast cancer as well.
That’s why Tenovus Cancer Care has their back, and yours, every step of the way. Every October we go on a pink mission to raise awareness and money. We need you to go on a mission and Go Pink!
This year more than any other year, those affected by cancer need your support. Coronovirus has meant that people have been hesitant to go to their doctors to get checked up, which means that many more people could have cancer (and breast cancer) than we currently know of. Tenovus Cancer Care wants to be there for those people as and when we are needed. Every pound and penny raised goes towards this.
Are you ready to step-up and do your part?
We have lots of ideas for how you can get involved, and this year we’re encouraging people to join our online quiz. It promises to be a fun night!
Or you can host your own BaZOOMba quiz on Tenovus Cancer Care’s behalf. We’ve put together everything you’ll need to get your own quiz organised.
Or why not take the chance to bring beautiful art into your home? We’re so excited to share with you this wonderful portrait of our Patron Catrin Finch, that is now up for auction with 100% of the money raised going to Tenovus Cancer Care!
This year more than any other year, those affected by cancer need your support. Coronovirus has meant that people have been hesitant to go to their doctors to get checked up, which means that many more people could have cancer (and breast cancer) than we currently know of.
Tenovus Cancer Care wants to be there for those people as and when we are needed. Every pound and penny raised goes towards this.
“I’d first noticed a funny little lump on my chest in 2007. It was diagnosed as a popped ligament and my funny little lump stayed until December 2013 when I thought it wasn’t quite so little anymore. Another X-ray, ultrasound and CT scan revealed nothing sinister but I asked for referral to a consultant anyway because the lump had become uncomfortable.
“I was in work when I had the phone call to tell me that everyone was surprised to find I had breast cancer. On what became known as ‘black Friday’ my surgeon took my hand and very gently told me that there would be no surgery as the cancer had already spread into my vertebrae.
“I was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma with metastases; an unusual case in that my cancer was in my breast bone not in the tissue. I always have to be different!
“Cancer left me feeling like I’d lost control over my life. The physical and emotional impact of the diagnosis meant I had to retire after working in the NHS for 34 years. Every twinge or headache made me think of the cancer spreading and my life was taken over by blood tests, scans and treatments with a diary full of medical appointments.
“At various times on this journey I’ve called Tenovus Cancer Care’s Support Line and talked to one of the nurses. There were some things I didn’t want to subject my family and friends to. Talking to someone who didn’t know me meant I felt free to tell them anything and everything.
“Regular treatment keeps the cancer stable. I’ve been using the charities Mobile Support Unit for four years and the care I receive there is superb. The staff are professional and empathic and I can greet them like old friends which makes treatment more bearable. I have my treatment closer to home, in wonderful surroundings, with special people in a state-of- the art facility. It’s amazing and I feel fortunate to have access to it.
“It’s important to know that you can live with this disease. Years later the treatment is still working and I can enjoy myself, even if it’s at a different pace. I want others to know that it’s possible to live a full and happy life despite being told your cancer is incurable. The one thing we can cling onto is hope.”
Deborah has struggled physically and emotionally since the surgery for her second cancer diagnosis resulted in lymphoedma in her left arm. She has been visiting our Mobile Support Unit near her home in Brecon to receive treatment and support for the condition.
“I never thought that I would get breast cancer. I didn’t tick any of the usual boxes and there’s no family history but I’ve had cancer twice. My first diagnosis was in August 2002 and my second was ten years later in August 2012. I’d noticed a small wrinkling of skin near my nipple which I knew was unusual. After an ultrasound and biopsy I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had a right sided mastectomy and chemotherapy, followed by medication.
“My daughter was just approaching her teens when I was first diagnosed. It affected her deeply and I was concerned about being around for her. I decided not to have a reconstructive surgery, although now looking back I may have made a different decision. I lost confidence in my appearance and felt very self-conscious for a while but I eventually got used to the strangeness of being lop-sided and the inconvenience of the prosthetic.
“My second cancer was picked up by a routine mammogram and an ultrasound. That time I had a lumpectomy, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and more medication. The operation and treatment resulted in lymphoedma in my left hand and arm which I’ve really struggled with, both physically and psychologically. I’m predominantly left-handed and find it a problem with working, typing, and doing daily tasks around the home. I wear a glove and sleeve which, apart from the discomfort of the lymphoedma, make me feel unattractive.
“I’ve been using Tenovus Cancer Care’s Mobile Support Unit which offers lymphoedma treatment close to my home. I was lucky enough to be introduced to the service after a referral from my GP. Living in rural Brecon and not being a driver myself, having easy access to the Unit and treatment is a godsend. The staff are always very welcoming, friendly and treat everyone with respect. The Unit itself is a cheerful place to come and feels like a very safe space to bring any concerns or worries.
“I would enthusiastically recommend Tenovus Cancer Care and their services. Not only do they provide excellent care but they are a font of knowledge about other organisations and services which may be of use. You’re left with the feeling that they really do care about you.”
“I remember being in the shower one day and looking out through the condensation to see our youngest son with my prosthetic boob stuck to him, ‘mummy I look like you!’ he said. He calls it a ‘pathetic booby’ which I quite like and as young as they are, we’ve been really open with the children while dumbing down the terminology.
“I was 39 when I was diagnosed last year. My breast looked like I’d had an implant put in. It was very pert and speaking as a mother of two it looked great to be honest! It was obviously swollen, tender but not painful, and there was some puckering around my nipple which became inverted over the next couple of days.
“Everyone gets told to look for something pea-sized when checking for lumps but mine was bigger than a tennis ball. I couldn’t believe it because I’d checked myself just five weeks before when a friend’s mother had been diagnosed and suddenly I’d developed this lump that was getting bigger by the day.
“I had my right breast removed on the 29th November. I know lots of women struggle with it but having the mastectomy didn’t bother me at all. I just wanted it gone. It was a case of lose my breast or die and it’s not as if I use it to write or anything!
“Initially the doctors thought that my triple negative breast cancer wouldn’t respond to hormone treatment so the mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy were followed by a lengthy course of oral chemotherapy instead. I took 12 tablets a day over five, two-week cycles finishing in September. I would rattle when I walked!
“I was expecting to have the call to say ‘you’re all done’ but after looking at my cells it was decided that taking Tamoxifen would be a good idea. I’d wanted to put everything behind us and move on but the silver lining was having a preventative I didn’t think I’d be able to use.
“Finding the humor in my situation has been the best medicine. Cancer is serious enough as it is. My husband didn’t change an ounce throughout and remains as flippant, funny and supportive as ever. I’d have wallowed in self-pity a lot more if I didn’t have him and the children maintaining normal family life.
“Sharing my story on social media has meant a lot to me. The importance of raising awareness hit home when an old school friend found a lump after reading one of my posts. Cancer isn’t embarrassing so bring it up in conversation with people and ask your friends if they’ve checked themselves recently. It could help save someone’s life.”
“When I received the letter from the hospital to say I needed to be seen again I just thought the mammogram hadn’t been carried out properly the first time. I hadn’t noticed a lump at all but they took around five or six biopsies from my breast. It was only when I went back the third time to get the results that I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“That’s the beauty of mammograms. I hadn’t noticed anything myself but the tumor was grade two, which luckily isn’t quite as aggressive as others but it could’ve been a different story if I’d missed that one appointment.
“Overall I had a good prognosis so I took it on the chin. I did my best to hold it together for my husband, daughter and of course my grandchildren. I went to my daughter’s house after receiving the results and she couldn’t quite believe how well composed I was. I was just happy it was found.
“I had three weeks of radiotherapy and I’ve been monitored for four years now while taking a drug called Tamoxifen to prevent a recurrence. Like anyone that has been through this, there are times when I wonder if it’s still there and moments where I’ve worried about being around for my family.
“My grandchildren, Elsie and Oliver were very young at the time and I wanted to be around for them, even during treatment. I have them over regularly and it’s nice because I didn’t have that kind of relationship with my grandparents. It’s been better medicine than sitting around and keeps me young!
“A diagnosis is quite a big thing to go through emotionally. I’ve always thought it would be nice join a group and talk to others affected by cancer but I hadn’t heard about Tenovus Cancer Care before meeting two lads promoting their lottery outside a local supermarket.
“I don’t play the National Lottery because it only supports bigger companies. But these boys spent time telling me about the charity’s services, its Welsh roots, and how they helped develop Tamoxifen which supports people like me, so I signed up. Giving something back for the treatment I’m receiving feels very personal and rewarding.
“The deciding factor was that if I need help in the future, whether that’s financial or emotional support, I now knew that there was a local charity for me to go to. Supporting their work only costs me a pound a week and although I’ve not won yet, there’s more chance than playing the main lottery!
“I only wish I’d known about Tenovus Cancer Care when I was having my treatment. It would have really helped to talk to people who understood what I was going through and I love to sing, so joining a choir would have been ideal. I may still do that when we’re able to get back to some normality!”
And don’t forget to check your boobs! Make sure you’re keeping an eye out on your own health as we tackle breast cancer together.