When Fran was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer at 25, she was determined to defy the prognosis she’d been given. After surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, she's been declared No Evidence of Disease.

Fran, a young white woman with blonde hair, beams with happiness after finding out she has no evidence of disease

I was denied a scan after finding a lump 

In January 2019, at the age of 24, I found a lump in my right breast and inevitably was concerned. At the time, I was a personal trainer, had been training for the Ironman, and was the fittest I’d ever been. I also had no family history.  

The following day, I went to my GP. It was confirmed there was a lump and I was referred to the breast clinic for an ultrasound. However, on attending this, I was told that I was “young and hormonal” and that the “lump was no concern.” No scan was done.  

18 months later, in July 2020 and at the height of the pandemic, I discovered a dimpling where the lump was. Knowing this wasn’t a good sign, I booked in for a rapid diagnostic test and three days later, at the age of 25, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  

In the time since first finding the lump, my cancer had advanced. I was given a stage 4 diagnosis with three tumours: breast, liver and skull. The oncologist gave me two years to live.  

I remember asking, “What am I supposed to do before I’m 27?!” but I was determined to fight and sought an oncology team who would back my corner. 

Incredibly, I had a complete response to treatment 

Moving to The Royal Marsden, I started my treatment journey. In the space of 12 months, I had a craniotomy to remove the part of the skull the tumour was in, six months of aggressive chemotherapy, cyberknife radiotherapy, and on completion started a new targeted therapy drug as well as endocrine therapy.  

At 26, I was put into a treatment-induced menopause (which continues to be a struggle), but the week before my 27th birthday we got the incredible news that my scans showed No Evidence of Disease. 

Fast-forward to the current day: my scans are not only still clear, but I have had a complete response to treatment, and therefore do not need to have breast surgery - quite the head scratcher for us all! 
 
Throughout my treatment I continued to exercise, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I not only had such a remarkable response to treatment but also did not suffer from fatigue.  

My experience inspired me to help others going through cancer treatment to continue to exercise so they could hopefully experience the same, and in 2021 I qualified as a Level 4 Cancer and Exercise Rehabilitation Specialist.  

I wouldn’t be alive today without fundraising and research 

I now work full time with other cancer thrivers to prehab before treatment, keep active during treatment and rehabilitate post treatment.  

I absolutely love my job, seeing the difference it makes to those people, and I now also hold a monthly meetup for young cancer thrivers to be able to be around others experiencing cancer at a similar life stage to them. 

I’m also so honoured to be a part of this year's Pink Ribbon Ball. It’s so important to me to share my story and be part of this event to show everyone the positivity that can come after such a difficult diagnosis.  

Without fundraising, awareness, research I wouldn’t be alive today. I wouldn’t still be smiling, moving, enjoying life and helping others.  

We’re often shown the darkness that comes with a cancer diagnosis, but I want to show the other side, the side of light, that can also happen even at stage 4 with the research and fundraising that happens.  

One in seven women will get breast cancer. It’s quite the shock to know how many are diagnosed at my age. Cancer doesn’t discriminate against age or lifestyle, but - together - we can enable more people to live with it without fear. 

 

It's thanks to pioneering research and techniques that Fran was able to see such incredible results from her treatment. Every year, we host a Pink Ribbon Ball in order to fund further research in the hopes that we will continue to hear stories like hers. If you're able to come along and support us, we'd love to see you there.

Pink Ribbon Ball