Five inspirational Breast Cancer Now supporters, Natasha, Jan, Nic, Donna and Sharon, share their breast cancer stories and urge people to be more breast aware.
BMI Healthcare, the UK's largest private hospital group, are supporting Breast Cancer Now throughout October, November and December to help raise awareness of breast cancer amongst women and men in the UK.
They have supported the launch of our new app, Breast Check Now, as well as producing a free downloadable breast awareness guide which provides useful information about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, the risk factors, and detail about how to check your breasts.
They have also teamed up with five of Breast Cancer Now’s incredible supporters to create a video about life after breast cancer, and why being breast aware is so important. We also asked for their proudest moment. Meet Natasha, Jan, Nic, Donna and Sharon, who are all cancer free thanks to early detection…
“My proudest moment is having my daughter Isabella – I didn’t think I could have any more children.”
Natasha was diagnosed with HER2 Positive breast cancer at just 31, after finding a lump on the side of her breast. Today she urges women to check regularly and to fully understand the signs and symptoms of breast cancer - “I felt the lump when I was in the shower, when I hadn’t been actively looking for anything so I was lucky to find it. It’s so important people know what to look out for, and do check often”.
Natasha prepared for the worst after her diagnosis, but today, after being free from cancer for 5 and a half years, explains that staying positive, and planning for the future helped her get through the hard days. Her proudest moment was having her second child, her “miracle baby” Isabella, after thinking she wouldn’t be able to have another.
“My proudest moment is completing the Great North Run in my personal best time.”
Jan was the fourth person to be diagnosed with breast cancer in her family, so checked regularly from an early age. She tells us she had a game plan as soon as she found the dent in her breast: “I told my daughter and husband about it so we could receive the news together, as a package. I knew instantly it was going to be breast cancer.”
She tells people to check regularly - “Just go for it and be vigilant. The more you handle your breasts you’ll know the instant something is wrong. And go to the doctors. The sooner you go, the better the prognosis, and the better the treatment.”
Jan has been cancer free for four years and has raised an incredible £55,000 for breast cancer charities. Her proudest moment is completing the Great North Run in a personal best time.
“My proudest moment came in July when I cycled 100 miles around Surrey and London.”
After a breast cancer scare in her twenties Donna checked herself regularly for lumps, and found a second aged 46. She was diagnosed with Grade 2, invasive, oestrogen-related breast cancer. “The first thing that goes through your mind is that you’re going to die. But it’s not like that. It’s a scary time but when you know what treatment to expect, and talk to other people in the same position, you realise everything is going to be okay.”
Donna took up cycling when she was going through treatment to help her deal with the side effects of chemotherapy. She continues to cycle today – after being free from cancer for ten months – and her proudest moment is completing RideLondon earlier this year.
“My proudest moment is giving up a teaching job of 18 years, re-training, and launching my own business as a health and fitness expert.”
Breast cancer runs in Nic’s family so she was expecting a diagnosis. When it came she had a very clear idea about how to get through her treatment. “I took one day at a time. I walked every day, put on my lipstick and a wig or a hat, and remained part of the community. I realised quickly that day five of every chemotherapy cycle was my ‘chemo fog’ day so stayed in, and didn’t try and be a superhero that day. I knew tomorrow would be different.”
Now free from cancer for five years, Nic tells people to go to the doctors if they notice anything different with their breasts. “The hardest bit is knowing you might have breast cancer and waiting to find out. So get checked out, and don’t take the risk. I have a daughter who has just turned 16 and she is seeing a positive outcome of an early detection of breast cancer.”
Her proudest moment is re-training after her diagnosis to become a health and fitness expert. She hopes to be able to help other people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
“My proudest moment is when I got my first book published and became an author.”
Sharon, mother of three and grandmother of four, started writing when she was diagnosed with breast cancer 11 years ago. Putting things down on paper helped her come to terms with what was happening, and spurred her on. After sharing her journal with friends, she was encouraged to share it more widely and went on to get her first story published – her proudest moment.
“When there is a possibility that you may lose your life and your loved ones, everything becomes even more precious. I’m thankful that I’m here to see my children and grandchildren. I urge people to check regularly, and get to the GP if you notice something different. As soon as treatment starts you’re on the road to recovery.”
Sharon has been cancer free for 11 years, and says that every day since has been “very special”.
BMI Healthcare and Breast Cancer Now are incredibly thankful to all five ladies for sharing their stories and being part of this special campaign. Watch their video and download BMI Healthcare’s free breast check guide here.