Dr Paul Shore has always been passionate about breast cancer, but when his wife Linda found a lump, his work suddenly took on a new meaning.
For Dr Shore, the drive to help breast cancer patients through research is what motivates him every day. It’s vital work – and it became personal in August 2008, when his wife Linda found a lump in her breast.
“I had it tested the same day, and quickly found out it was a malignant tumour,” Linda recalls, “Once I had that diagnosis, we both knew what it meant.”
After the diagnosis
From then on, Linda knew she just had to get on with it. “We both dealt with it differently. At that point, I think Paul found it difficult because he knew what was coming next. Sometimes he knew too much, but at the same time, it meant I was able to ask all the right questions, and it helped that Paul could explain everything to me.”
One of Paul’s colleagues at Manchester Breast Centre, Professor Nigel Bundred, performed a lumpectomy on Linda, but a few weeks after the surgery, she was told that her cancer was a different type to the initial diagnosis. “It was ER-positive, which meant treating it with tamoxifen, as well as being invasive lobular carcinoma, rather than DCIS.”
Lobular cancer is harder to detect because it doesn’t stay in one place; it gets into the breast tissue without necessarily forming a single lump.
For Linda, this meant there was only one option – a mastectomy and axillary lymph node clearance.
What about the children?
But first, Linda and Paul faced the difficult task of telling their children, William and Beccy, aged just eight and six. Being so young, both Linda and Paul didn’t know how to break the news to them, nor how they would react, “We knew my appearance would change after the mastectomy and chemotherapy, so I sat with them and read a kids’ book called 'Mummy’s Lump', which made it easier.”
Paul agrees that telling the children was the worst part, “Will went to Scouts the same day I spoke to him, and when someone asked him where his mum was, he replied, ‘Oh, she’s got breast cancer!’ as if it was a common cold. We had to limit the details we gave them at the age, because we didn’t know how it was going to pan out."
Thankfully, Linda’s surgery went well, and she underwent chemotherapy at The Christie hospital in Manchester. “It drained my energy. I’d plummet for a week, crawl back out, and do it all over again. But it was never as bad as I thought it would be.”
While Linda was recovering, Paul took the children to school and to their swimming lessons. “Managing time was tough,” he recalls, “friends helped us when I was at work, but I had to step up to the mark to try and keep things as normal as possible for the kids.”
Linda’s cancer is now under control, and the couple are enjoying family life.
“It’s been a difficult journey,” Paul admits, “but my understanding of breast cancer meant that we knew where we were going, which helped us both. It has just shown me how important it is to pursue breast cancer research.”
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Dr Shore features in the October 2015 BBC Lifeline Appeal to support our work. Find out more about the appeal and how you can donate.