When I was eleven, my mum was diagnosed with an advanced stage breast cancer and she lived with it for twenty-one years. I have experienced how breast cancer affects you as a family. My two sisters and I grew up with Cancer.
Now, nearly four years later I am experiencing my own diagnosis.
Mum’s diagnosis made me more inclined to check myself and less shy to go to the doctors about symptoms. I’m determined to promote the importance of being breast aware and I use Instagram as a vehicle for this now. By posting about my diagnosis and treatment, a few people have got checked and said they wouldn’t have if they hadn’t seen my post and that’s my point, I got diagnosed as a fit and well thirty-five-year-old first-time mum. I was very quick to go to the doctor who is fully aware of my family history.
Laura with Orla on holiday
She explained that it could be a number of things, an infection, a blocked milk duct due to breastfeeding. I remember her writing a cover note to the Breast Clinic ‘Laura is a 35-year-old Police officer and first time Mum.’ I burst into tears at this, thinking, ‘this can’t be happening, I’m a Mum.’ Still, it was only two weeks after going to the doctors that I was diagnosed.
When I first felt the lump, I had been playing with my daughter on our bed one Sunday morning, she had leant on my breast and it really hurt. I thought it could be increased sensitivity after breast feeding but I checked and found it; what felt like a pea under my skin, it was hard and prominent. I asked my husband to double check, could he feel the same thing I could? I rang the doctor the next day and got an appointment.
It couldn’t be cancer, could it? I’m so young. Mum was in her 50s.
My first appointment at the Churchill quickly snowballed into a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy. Having your breasts put in a mammogram machine is bizarre, it’s uncomfortable and they manipulate you into weird positions so they can get the best picture of the breast. Even more so for younger women because our breast tissue is far denser. It was weird for me; I’d never had a mammogram before as the screenings aren’t offered earlier than your fiftieth birthday in most cases. I do hope in the future routine screenings are offered for younger women.
It was surreal when they just showed me the lump and said, ‘there it is!’ I started thinking ‘is this lump nothing, or is it trying to kill me?’ The only other ultrasound I had seen before this was when I was pregnant, seeing my daughter’s heartbeat which was a totally joyous experience. Being shown a black mass on screen was a totally different experience, the other end of the scale from joyous!
You can read Laura's story in full and watch her video here