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Our wedding was perfect - then my world came crashing down

The sound of wedding bells had barely stopped ringing in Charlotte’s ears when she received the shocking news of her breast cancer diagnosis. Find out more.

© Roger Brown Photography

My dreams were shattered

I’m 36, fit and healthy. I don't drink or smoke and I enjoy a healthy vegan diet.

In August 2022, I married the love of my life, and we were about to start our family. Things were going perfectly. But the following week, my dreams were shattered - I was diagnosed with stage 1, grade 2 breast cancer.

I'd noticed a lump in my breast only 6 weeks before the wedding, then everything happened so fast. I had an ultrasound which showed an abnormality, and I had a biopsy on the same week as our big day.

I was in a race against time to freeze my embryos

On the day I was diagnosed, I was asked if I wanted children and explained we’d hoped to start a family soon.

They told me that if I needed chemo, I’d be unlikely to be able to have children. The best-case scenario was that I’d be hormone receptive, which would mean taking hormone treatment for 5 to 10 years. But this would mean waiting till my 40s to have children, and possibly missing my fertility window.

So, they booked me for emergency fertility preservation a few days later at an NHS clinic. Not only did I need to fight cancer, but I was in a race against time to create embryos to freeze.

I started IVF the same day as my MRI scan

Everything happened so fast. After my diagnosis, I immediately started the whole IVF process. The first round was funded by the NHS and our insurance covered some of the second. But both had limited results, so we were stuck as to what to do.

I sold my car to pay for a third round, and thanks to the kind help of friends, family and well-wishers, we were able to raise money for a fourth.

We ended up with a good number of stage 1 embryos to freeze. I feel so grateful that we were able to safeguard our dreams of having a family after my treatment.

Thankfully the breast cancer hasn’t spread

On 23 September 2022, they successfully removed the tumour, and a few weeks later, I found out the surrounding connected tissue and lymph nodes tested negative. This was a huge relief and the best news I could have hoped for.

I had radiotherapy and now I take the hormone treatment Tamoxifen as a long-term precaution.

Everyone should regularly check their breasts

After my brother had cancer when he was young, I was tested for over 50 known cancer-causing genes, including those linked to hereditary breast cancer (BRCA1, BRCA2, PALB2, CHEK2 and ATM), and no gene alterations were detected. But I still had breast cancer in my 30s.

So what I want to stress to other young people is that you must check your breasts regularly. Even if you’re young, healthy and have no family history of cancer, don’t assume that it couldn’t happen to you.

Although the timing of finding my tumour was bad, I realise that if I hadn’t spotted a lump early on, my story could have been very different.

I’ve started a podcast with my brother to help raise awareness

To turn my bad situation into a more positive one, my brother and I started a podcast and YouTube channel called the Cancer Twins. We documented my journey, and now we’re inviting others to talk about theirs.

My brother, Greg, is a teenage cancer survivor of Ewing sarcoma and he's been a great help to me. When he started his treatment, I was his main support. So, when the roles were reversed, it was strange but very reassuring to have him there for me too. That’s why we started the podcast - we have each other and wanted to make sure others don’t have to feel alone.

Do you have any advice for young people about being breast aware?

Make sure you know the signs of breast cancer and check, regardless of your age, so you can catch anything early.

 

Be breast aware - make sure your're clued up on the symptoms of breast cancer.

Signs and symptoms of breast cancer

 

 

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