Tuesday, January 25, 2022
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“Check your breasts” urges breast cancer survivor

A King’s cancer patient is urging a generation to check their breasts for signs of cancer after her life-changing diagnosis.

Elizabeth Anderton, 32, was diagnosed with breast cancer last September.

She first noticed a lump in her right breast in July 2020 – but decided to postpone acting, reasoning that it may be due to her period.

“However,” said Elizabeth, “While the lump reduced, I started to experience pain in my right breast and there was nipple discharge, which was bloodstained, in my bra.”

Elizabeth was immediately referred to the Princess Royal University Hospital (PRUH), part of King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, for a biopsy and mammogram (breast x-ray), which confirmed that she had primary breast cancer.

The diagnosis was life-changing. Not only did Elizabeth require a course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but she was faced with the prospect of the treatment making her infertile.

She explains: “Given my age and planned treatment, clinicians at the PRUH suggested fertility treatment that would involve freezing my eggs. I had recently entered into a new long-term relationship and I didn’t just want the decision to be just taken out of my hands.

“My partner was incredibly supportive but I felt that we were forced into making a big decision, early on in our relationship.

“During chemo, I often experienced bouts of sickness, hot flushes and had aches and pains across my body. I also lost hair across my body and parts of my head.

“The nurses in the chemo suite at the PRUH and radiotherapy team at Queen Mary’s Hospital, in Sidcup, were so caring and supportive.

“They felt like an extended part of my family and they always managed to keep my spirits up.”

Elizabeth completed her course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy at the start of 2021, and is now on a series of eighteen injections until January 2022. She will also need to take drug Tamoxifen daily for the next five to ten years.

“Please get into the habit of checking your breasts,” she said. “You can do this in the shower or bath, or even in front of a mirror when you’re getting dressed in the morning. Don’t delay contacting your GP, as this might affect how well you respond to treatments.

“It was heartbreaking to hear about Sarah Harding,” she added. “It just shows that breast cancer doesn’t discriminate and can affect anyone.”

A King’s doctor confirmed the importance of regularly checking for signs of cancer: “Not all changes are cancer,” said Jackie Wright, Lead Breast Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist at the PRUH, “but it is important that both women and men carry out regular breast checks.

“Everyone is different, so it’s important to learn what is normal for you and be aware of the symptoms. If something doesn’t feel right, then contact your GP straight away.”

Elizabeth will be raising money for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, by taking part in “Wear it Pink.”

You can find her JustGiving page here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/liz-anderton2

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