“I would just like women to know what their risk is, and to seek advice if they have a family history of breast cancer. It’s so simple to check your risk, and it could end up saving your life.”
Liz is a loving wife and mother to three young children. She is a wife, daughter, a friend and a colleague. She is now also on a breast cancer journey.
Diagnosed in March 2019, Liz found out she had cancer by chance after complaining of a pain in her hip. She was later told that that pain was as a result of breast cancer which had spread throughout her body. After scans and tests, Liz was diagnosed with stage four, metastatic breast cancer.
“Telling your husband and your mother that you have been given a late stage cancer diagnosis is always going to be the most difficult thing, but it’s really forced us, especially as a family, to make our long term goals our short term goals and to not put off living!”
Liz’s lump was located deep in her breast tissue, so she wasn’t aware of it until right before she was diagnosed, but she was no stranger to cancer. Many people in Liz’s locality around her age (forty-eight) have been diagnosed and sadly passed away from cancer in the past few years and Liz’s own mother was diagnosed with post-menopausal breast cancer, not once but twice.
“I’m a nurse and midwife and when Mam was diagnosed…I didn’t register that might affect my chances of becoming ill. It takes two minutes to go online and take the risk register and see what your risk of breast cancer is due to your family’s past health history. Although I had checked my risk, it was over ten years ago, and the information /guidance had changed in the intervening years, and I had not realised. Information about cancer risk changes regularly and it’s important to be aware of this. Checking my updated risk might not have changed anything, but at least I would have known to seek advice earlier.”
Liz went through a course of chemo and medication, but one of the most difficult parts of her diagnosis was sharing her story with friends and family.
“When I was initially told I was stage four, everyone wanted to come around and see me, and often they would get upset and break down while I was telling them about my diagnosis and treatment. I was so surprised that it made me uncomfortable, but I came to take it as a sign of affection and love from those around me. I am just so lucky to have the people in my life that I do and the GP practice and amazing oncology team that have been looking after me through my cancer journey. They truly are everyday heroes.”
Liz is an incredibly positive person, and chooses to look forward in hope, instead of backwards in regret. An active member in the community and a volunteer in her village’s community games. For Liz, life moves on, and she continues to live, happy with the support network she has built for herself.
“People often say they are battling cancer, or that some have lost their battle with cancer. It’s not a battle, it’s a journey. And it’s no one’s fault if they find themselves on a cancer journey. It’s simply bad luck.”
When asked what she wanted other women to know about breast cancer, she implored women to get to know their family history, and to take the risk register to get an accurate view of what their risk could be. “It’s a simple process and it could save your life and mean you can be around for your friends and family for year to come. That’s my goal now. To be around for my kids and make sure that I can be there for them for as long as I can.”