Andrea gets married on Christmas Eve, just days after being diagnosed with breast cancer

My diagnosis made the wedding even more poignant, as we didn’t know what lay ahead of us.

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer just nine days before I got married on Christmas Eve 2020. My husband Kevin and I still managed to have the most perfect wedding and since my treatment has finished, I’ve tried to embrace life as much as I can. We can’t wait to take part in The MoonWalk London 2024 together!

During September 2020 I noticed that my left breast felt different to my right breast. I couldn’t feel a lump as such, it was just that my left breast felt “thicker” and I also had some discharge from my left nipple. With it being during the pandemic, I initially just had a chat on the phone with my doctor. To her credit, she referred me straight to the breast clinic, and two weeks later I had a mammogram and an ultrasound.

The ultrasound picked up some cysts in my left breast, which were drained, but my results also showed some cells in my breast, which are called atypical hyperplasia. Although they weren’t classified as cancer at that stage, the fact that they were there, increased the chance of breast cancer developing. In November 2020 I had an operation to remove some of those rogue cells for testing. Whilst I waited for the results, I had to keep our wedding as a focus, or I might have fallen apart. I just didn’t know what was going to happen.

Andrea and Kevin

Kevin and I had met at the firm of insurance brokers where we both work. He came into the company as a consultant, although I’d had quite a lot of contact with him over the phone as a client, before he came to work for us. I’d already built up quite a rapport with him, which was really nice. When we finally met in person, we really hit it off!

We got together in September 2017 and we were engaged in August 2018. We’d never planned a big wedding, because we’d both been married before and had much bigger weddings the first time around. We set a date for our wedding on Christmas Eve 2020.

Just nine days before, on 16th December, at the age of 45, I got the news that the cells in my left breast were indeed cancerous, which was a huge shock. There was no history at all of breast cancer in my family. I remember the consultant telling me I had cancer and that afterwards we saw the breast cancer nurse, who gave me lots of leaflets. I recall just looking at her and saying “But I’m getting married next week!’ I just couldn’t get my head around it. Being diagnosed with breast cancer so close to the wedding, I was petrified and felt quite sick. It didn’t seem real.

Kev had to phone my parents with the news, because I just couldn’t even say the words - that I had cancer. It’s a cliché, but you always hear about someone else having cancer, and then suddenly, it was me. At the time, my son was only 12 years old and I was so worried about how I was going to explain everything to him.

Having the focus of the wedding really did help me through that time. From our side, there was never any thought at all of cancelling or postponing the wedding. We really wanted it to go ahead. I love Christmas and Christmas Eve is my favourite day – I think it’s the magic and excitement. Nothing was going to stop us – we were getting married! All our friends and family were so supportive – we had a great group of people around us.

Our wedding went ahead as planned on Christmas Eve and despite everything was absolutely perfect.  At one stage we’d been planning to have 30 to 40 guests, but because of Covid, there were only 12 of us, including my parents, my husband’s brother and his wife and both of our sons. It was a very small wedding in the end, but so lovely. My diagnosis made the wedding even more poignant, basically, because of the unknown.  At that time, we just didn’t know what lay ahead of us.

There were Christmas trees everywhere and the room had a cosy fire burning…it was wonderful. In the evening after our ceremony, we all ate the nibbles which I’d brought and stored in our mini fridge in our hotel suite – our very own cheese and wine party!

In January 2021, I had surgery to remove the cancerous cells, but unfortunately, tests afterwards showed the operation hadn’t quite removed them all. I was given the option of further surgery, or to have a full mastectomy, which is what I went for. I didn’t need radiotherapy or chemotherapy, as the surgeons managed to get rid of all the cancerous cells, by removing my whole breast. I decided against having a reconstruction and I now wear a prosthetic. Having previously had a number of major operations for my arthritis, including having joints replaced, I really didn’t want yet another operation. I chatted through my options with Kevin, who told me he was simply happy that I was there and was well – he left the final choice with me.

The whole experience with breast cancer has made me really reflect on my life and to think about the things which I’d always wanted to do, but hadn’t got around to. For example, I didn’t go to university, but have worked my whole life instead. However, I’ve always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to get a degree. So, in February 2021 (the month of my mastectomy), I signed up with the Open University and am now in the third year of my degree in Psychology and Counselling. My breast cancer diagnosis definitely motivated me to take the plunge and go for it – life it short and if there’s something that we want to do, we should just go for it. You never know what’s around the next corner! I’m definitely not one to wallow and I’ve never thought “why me?”, more a case of “why not me?”. Breast cancer could affect anyone.

Kate & Andrea at the MoonWalk London 2017

I took part in The MoonWalk London three times, before I was diagnosed myself, so it now seems more important than ever to sign up again. I’ll be walking with Kevin and we’re taking on the Full Moon (26.2 miles). I can’t wait to share such a wonderful event with him, as he takes part for the first time. I love seeing London at night, with all the buildings lit up pink and the support we get from both Londoners and the volunteers along the route really does keep us all going.  

My message to everyone is simply to get yourself checked out if something in your breast doesn’t feel quite right. Raising awareness is so important and I can’t wait to do that – as well as raising much needed funds – when Kevin and I take part in The MoonWalk London in May”.

Thank you for sharing your story Andrea and we look forward to seeing you and Kevin at The MoonWalk London 2024!

Sign up and join us for the MoonWalk London 2024 by clicking here!


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