A staggering one in seven women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and hundreds of thousands are living with this devastating disease. But these women are on a mission for change. They’re researching better treatments, raising awareness, and inspiring hope.
Rochelle is a PhD student at Cardiff University, joint funded by Tenovus Cancer Care and KESS 2. She’s looking at how breast cancer spreads, and how we develop new drugs so more women survive secondary breast cancer.
“In the last few decades treatments for breast cancer have improved significantly, and survival rates are better than ever. But thousands of women still die from breast cancer every year, and that’s often down to the tumour spreading, which is known as ‘metastasis’.
“We know a particular protein called Bcl3 is involved in how breast cancer spreads but it’s the way it does this that’s unknown. My PhD aims to look at how other proteins in the body interact with Bcl3, leading to the spread of breast cancer. With this information we can better understand the effect recently-developed drugs have on this process, and develop the next generation of drugs for treating breast cancer metastasis.
“I’m so grateful to Tenovus Cancer Care and feel privileged to follow in the footsteps of researchers who pioneered the use of drugs like Tamoxifen. People’s fundraising during campaigns like Breast Cancer Awareness Month make research like mine possible, so together we can make progress in the fight against breast cancer.”
Andrea was diagnosed with incurable breast cancer at just 50. Despite her diagnosis, she remains hopeful about the future, and is part of a support group in Swansea.
“I was in work when I had the call to say the scan results showed it was breast cancer. On what became known as ‘Black Friday’ my surgeon took my hand and very gently told me there would be no surgery as the cancer had already spread.
“Cancer left me feeling like I’d lost control of my life. Every twinge or headache made me think it was spreading, and my life was taken over by blood tests and scans, with a diary full of appointments.
“I’ve called Tenovus Cancer Care’s Support Line several times and talked to their nurses.
There are some things you don’t want to subject your nearest and dearest to, so it was good to talk to someone who didn’t know me, and I felt free to tell them anything and everything.
“I’m part of a support group for women who live with secondary breast cancer. It’s important to know you can live with it and not give up hope. That’s the one thing we cling on to. Years after my diagnosis the treatment is still working and I can enjoy myself, even if it’s at a different pace. I want others to know it’s possible to live a full and happy life despite being told your cancer is incurable.”
If you or someone you love is affected by any kind of cancer, call Tenovus Cancer Care’s free Support Line on 0808 808 1010.
Saffron from Caerphilly was diagnosed with breast cancer after finding a lump while on holiday. She wants to raise awareness that younger women get breast cancer too.
“I’ve always checked for lumps and when I found one, I kept asking myself why I hadn’t felt it before. My family were devastated when I was diagnosed, but my husband’s been brilliant and I feel incredibly lucky to have had his support. I was heartbroken having to tell my children, but they were great. It was important for me to tell them because they both have access to computers and an internet search can make things sound so much worse.
“Having my treatment on Tenovus Cancer Care’s Mobile Support Unit was absolutely brilliant and everyone I met was amazing. It’s perfect when you aren’t feeling your best because you can drive up, park right outside and walk straight in.
“When I was going through treatment I was the youngest by a mile. I don’t think people realise you can be affected by breast cancer at such a young age, I certainly didn’t.
Younger women need to be more aware, and remember the importance of checking for lumps.”
Make sure you check your boobs!
It’s not a military operation… AND it could save your life!
There’s no right or wrong way to check your boobs but the key is knowing how they usually look and feel, so you can spot any changes.
By making your self-check-up part of your normal routine, you’ll catch any changes quickly. Tenovus Cancer Care, Wales’ leading cancer charity recommend checking your boobs monthly, but work out what’s best for you, and you’re more likely to stick to it!
Feel each breast and the area around your breasts, your armpits and up to your collarbone. Some people find it easiest to do this in the shower with soapy hands.
Look at them in the mirror both standing with your arms by your side and also with them raised, looking out for:
- Changes to the size, outline or shape
- Changes to the look or feel of your skin such as bumps, dimples, orange peel, skin sores or growing veins
- A new lump, thickening or bumpy area in the breast or armpit
- Unexpected fluid or bleeding
- Crusty or sunken nipples or a change in nipple position
- Discomfort or pain in one breast
- An unexplained rash or feelings of heat
Don’t forget that men get breast cancer too. Everyone should check their boobs! Always go and see your GP if you’re worried.
If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, are living with breast cancer or are worried about breast cancer, Tenovus Cancer Care has got your back – whether it’s during diagnosis, treatment, or coping with the physical, financial or emotional side effects. All you need to do is call 0808 808 1010.
Support Your Sisters – Go Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Tenovus Cancer Care, Wales’ leading cancer charity is on a pink mission this October to raise awareness and vital funds for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
From ‘BOOB’ camps to Bake-offs, sponsored walks to knit-a-thons, however you decide to Go Pink, you can help support breast cancer patients now and in the future.
Visit www.tenovuscancercare.org.uk/missionBCAM to order your Pink Fundraising Pack or donate online.