Sarah explains how she was diagnosed with breast cancer, after her first routine mammogram

When you’re offered a mammogram, just go – it could save your life.

L-R: Sarah (second from right) with Sophie, Verity and Lauren

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2021 at the age of 50, following my first routine mammogram. There’s no reason for anyone to be scared about having one and it could save your life.

I have no history of breast cancer in my family and in my head, I thought I’d be in and out very quickly for my mammogram and that they wouldn’t find anything. I remember seeing a friend during my journey to the hospital that day. I mentioned I had an appointment and my friend asked me if I was ok. I told him about the mammogram and said it was just a routine test and that everything was fine. Little did I know.

As it turned out, everything wasn’t ok. Less than two weeks later I was called back to the hospital for further tests and had three biopsies taken. The mammogram had discovered two lumps in my right breast. The doctors said that they’d probably been there a while, but that there was no way that I could have felt the lumps myself. I tended to check my breasts probably once a year, but I’d never found a lump.

I went back for my results and was told that I had breast cancer, which was a huge shock. It was a bolt from the blue, when I’d been expecting my first routine mammogram to be just that – routine.

Everything moved very quickly after that and I had decisions to make. I needed a mastectomy, but knew that I didn’t want to be flat on my right side, so, I opted for a reconstruction. During my first operation, I had my right breast removed and an implant put in, plus the uplift of my left breast. They removed my right nipple as it was deemed too risky to put back it on. I then had 15 sessions of radiotherapy, but didn’t need chemotherapy.

Once we knew that the radiotherapy had done its job, I went back into the hospital for the final part of my reconstruction surgery, called a DIEP Flap. I decided not to have my nipple reconstructed, as I didn’t see the point. Also – not having a nipple is a real reminder to myself that I did go through all of this and am now out the other side!

Although I’m now recovered from the cancer itself, I’ll be taking the hormone therapy Tamoxifen for between five and ten years to prevent it from coming back. Like with the surgery, I’ve been lucky that I’ve had no after effects from taking the drug – I know that some people suffer really badly with it. I’m so grateful and sometimes feel a bit of a fraud, as I’ve not had any problems with my operations or treatment. I’m very aware that’s not always the case.  I am a positive person, which has really helped me - my husband Patrick and my kids Lauren, Sophie and Sam have all been very supportive too. The two girls both drive and they ferried me to every appointment, whether it was just a check-up or something more major.

If I’d not gone to that first mammogram and waited another couple of years, my story could have been so different - I could have been saying goodbye to my loved ones. I opened up about my story on social media and know that my story pushed some of my friends to finally go for their mammograms. One person told me they’d had a reminder letter sitting in a pile for six months, but that she’d finally booked an appointment, because of me.

That’s why I’m so keen to raise awareness about the importance of mammograms. Sometimes people do need pushing. Sometimes they might not be ok. Early diagnosis is so important – the earlier breast cancer is caught, the easier it is to treat.

I’m still having mammograms once a year. I tell all my friends on Facebook when I’m going and remind them to check their breasts. I also suggest they take a picture of their boobs in a mirror once a year, so they can notice more easily if there’ve been any changes. Not many of us actually stand in front of a mirror and look at our naked breasts. But we should!

L-R Sarah (on the right) with Verity, Patrick and Sophie

Now that I’m in recovery, I’m really excited to be taking on the Full Moon (26.2 miles) at The MoonWalk London 2023, with a fabulous group of friends and family. Both Lauren and Sophie have signed up with me, as well as my dear friend Verity, who has also just come through breast cancer. I’d always talked about doing The MoonWalk, but never actually signed up. It was Verity who gave me the final push and suggested that we do it this year. I love walking and find that it’s a real stress reliever. I can’t wait to take part with a group of the most wonderful people who’ve supported me so amazingly over the last couple of years.

My message to my fellow MoonWalkers and to everyone else, is that when you’re offered a mammogram, just go! You’re in and out in five minutes and it’s not painful – just a little discomfort maybe. There is no reason for anyone to be scared of having it done.

I’m happy to share the story of how a routine mammogram saved my life to anyone who would like to listen – if it saves just one person, it will have been worth it”

- Sarah

Thank you for sharing your story Sarah and we look forward to seeing you at The MoonWalk London 2023! It's not too late to join Sarah... sign up now!



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