Breast Cancer Now - Joanne's story
Joanne, (58), from Surfleet was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017. She’s now a Someone Like Me volunteer for Breast Cancer Now, where she gives confidential support to others affected by breast cancer.
Joanne said: “One sunny day I came in from working in the garden to quickly grab a shower before cooking dinner. As I was washing, I felt a slight swelling and firmness at the top of my left breast. As there was no lump, I assumed I had pulled a muscle whilst gardening.
“I was so unconcerned I didn’t mention it to my husband until we were in bed that night. He reassured me that it was probably nothing but encouraged me to get it checked out.
“My GP felt it was nothing to worry about but referred me to our local breast clinic to be sure.
"I remember sitting in the waiting room surrounded by worried faces, it still didn’t register that this could be serious.
“Within the space of an hour I had a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsies from both breasts. When the consultant said ‘I don’t know what this is but bring someone with you for the results in two weeks’ I just knew.
“I was diagnosed with a small hormone positive breast cancer and went on to have surgery, radiotherapy and tamoxifen.
“I coped extremely well with the physical aspects of my treatment, but nothing prepared me for the emotional impact of a cancer diagnosis and coming face to face with my own mortality.
“I have an amazing and supportive husband, family and friends, but the loneliness I experienced was overwhelming and at times debilitating.
“With support, which included counselling and medication, I gradually came to accept and come to terms with what had happened, but it took a long time.
“As I recovered emotionally, I felt strongly that I wanted to help other people with a breast cancer diagnosis, and I applied to become a Someone Like Me volunteer for Breast Cancer Now.
“Almost five years on from my diagnosis I am doing well, living life to the full and have done many things I have long dreamt of.
“I'm proud to have supported many women from diagnosis through treatment and beyond with both practical advice and emotional support, working with them through their own journey and recovery"
Whatever your worries, you can speak to Breast Cancer Now’s expert nurses by calling their free Helpline on 0808 800 6000 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find out more about breast cancer and Breast Cancer Now’s vital work here.
Checking your breasts only takes a few minutes and everyone will have their own way of touching and looking for changes. Whether it's in the bath, shower or before going to bed, checking for signs and symptoms is as easy as TLC.
Many women may know that a lump can be a possible symptom of breast cancer, but it’s vital to know there are other signs of the disease too, including nipple discharge or dimpling or puckering of the skin of the breast.
While most breast changes won’t be cancer, it’s important to contact your GP as soon as possible if you notice anything new or unusual, as the sooner breast cancer is diagnosed, the more successful treatment is likely to be.
Use the infographic below to understand the signs.