Woman reveals horror of discovering THREE cancerous tumours after being told the lump in her breast was just ‘fatty tissue’ – and how a mastectomy left her too scared to look in the mirror
- Debbie Boland, of Manchester, thought aching breasts were sign of menopause
- But after pressing them to relieve the pain, the mother-of-two, 52, felt a lump
- She was told it was most likely ‘fatty tissue’ until the swelling got much bigger
- Grandmother-of-one was then finally told she had three tumours in her breast
A woman has revealed her horror at discovering she had three tumours, after first being told by medics that the lump in her breast was just ‘fatty tissue’.
Debbie Boland, 52, from Manchester, first thought,in March 2018, that her aching breasts were a sign of the menopause, but after pressing them to relieve the pain, she felt a pea-sized swelling.
The mother-of-two went to her local doctors and was seen by a locum GP who reassured Debbie that the bulge was most likely ‘fatty tissue’ before sending her for a mammogram ‘to be on the safe side’.
But despite Debbie’s X-ray results coming back all clear, the lump continued to grow until she was referred to the The Nightingale Centre – her local breast cancer prevention clinic.
Following several biopsies, the grandmother-of-one was told she had three tumours in her breast – one being almost five inches in size – which had also spread to her lymph glands.
Debbie Boland (pictured with her two sons, Jack, left, and Dean, right), 52, from Manchester, discovered she had three tumours after first being told by medics that the lump in her breast was just ‘fatty tissue’
Debbie (pictured during treatment with her son) first thought her aching breasts were a sign of the menopause in March 2018, but after pressing them to relieve the pain, she felt a pea-sized swelling
Thankfully after gruelling chemotherapy, a mastectomy and lymph node clearance, Debbie was given the all clear of cancer – but said she lost her dignity and identity during the process.
She is now calling for better detection awareness, and is one of the 100 women staffing Prevent Breast Cancer’s bright pink BooBee Bus this month.
The bus will tour the North West throughout October, offering advice and sharing personal, first-hand stories of the disease, from those who have been personally affected by breast cancer.
Speaking exclusively to FEMAIL, Debbie said: ‘I had a horrible gut feeling before I received my biopsy results that it wasn’t going to be good news. The look on the doctors face said it all.
‘I was angry and really upset, I felt totally let down by the system. I had checked my breasts, I had felt the lump, I had gone to the doctor, I had had a mammogram and it was all clear. I remember saying to the consultant, “How has this happened?”‘
Despite first being told it was probably ‘fatty tissue’, the grandmother-of-one (pictured recently) was eventually told she had three tumours in her breast – one being almost five inches in size – which had also spread to her lymph glands
Self-employed Debbie was told by medics that ten per cent of aggressive cancers don’t show up on a mammogram and that the best practice for GP’s is to send anyone with a lump to a breast cancer screening clinic.
‘I was then in total shock,’ said Debbie, who has two sons Jack, 23, and Dean, 29. ‘Why wasn’t I told that Mammograms don’t always pick up aggressive cancers?
‘If I had known I would have insisted on being referred to the breast clinic. I presumed that the locum GP new best and I had virtually put my life in his hands.
‘My doctor implied that if the correct procedures had been followed I wouldn’t have been in the situation I was now in as I had a very aggressive Grade 3 Stage 3 cancer.’
She added: ‘My mum nearly collapsed at the Nightingale when she heard my results, she was inconsolable.
Thankfully after gruelling chemotherapy, a mastectomy and lymph node clearance, Debbie (pictured with her granddaughter, centre) was given the all clear of cancer
‘I was really worried about the impact this was going to have on my mum and my family. I kept thinking how do I tell my boys and my granddaughter. I felt sick every time I thought about it.
‘But I made my mind up there and then that Breast Cancer was not going to beat me and that I would deal with whatever was sent my way. I had to be strong and positive for everyone.’
Recalling her chemotherapy treatment, Debbie, who assists those in the finance sector with customer service procedures, said: ‘I can honestly say I have never been so ill in all my life.
‘I thought to myself I’m healthy and pretty fit, I will smash this. But nothing prepared me for the impact the chemo would have on me – the pain and the way I felt was unbearable.
Debbie (pictured) is now calling for better detection awareness, and is one of the 100 women staffing Prevent Breast Cancer’s bright pink BooBee Bus this month
Debbie (pictured before her diagnosis with her sons) is now passionate about educating others in the detection of cancer
‘I have never experienced anything like it and never want to again. I had every side effect possible and some additional ones.’
In November 2018, Debbie was informed by Professor Howell at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, one of the largest cancer treatment centres of its type in Europe, that the cancer had gone.
‘I can’t tell you how relieved I was, I think I actually kissed him,’ the mother revealed.
In January 2019, Debbie had a mastectomy and lymph node clearance to remove the areas affected by the cancer.
‘I wasn’t really sure how I would feel after my mastectomy,’ the grandmother-of-one admitted. ‘I just wanted to get everything out of the way as soon as possible as I had 15 lots of radiotherapy to undergo after surgery.
‘I didn’t want to look at myself when I first had the surgery. The chemo had already taken my dignity, my hair and at times I felt like it had taken my identity.
The mother-of-two, seen during treatment, only noticed a lump in her breast after lying down instead of doing her usual shower checks
‘I lost three stones in six weeks and had scars all over my body from the blisters the chemo caused. I wasn’t in a hurry to see what other damage had been inflicted on my body but eventually the dressings had to be removed.’
It was staying positive that dragged Debbie through her experiences and the reminder that ‘this was temporary, that I wasn’t always going to feel like this or look like this and that as soon as I was able I would be having a reconstruction.’
Debbie is now passionate about educating others in the detection of cancer and raising awareness ‘to find better ways of preventing and treating this horrendous disease for future generations’.
The mother-of-two, who only noticed a lump in her breast after lying down instead of doing her usual shower checks, admitted: ‘I have found out so much more since my diagnosis which shouldn’t be the case.
‘I had no idea that mammograms didn’t always pick up cancer cells, or what the best practice is, should you go to your GP with a lump. I always checked my breasts stood up in the shower, I didn’t know that you should check them lying down too.’
The BooBee bus (pictured) will tour the North West throughout October, offering advice and sharing personal, first-hand stories of the disease, from those who have been personally affected by breast cancer
Debbie added: ‘Women should know everything there is to know about checking their breasts and breast screening from an early age, I have met women that were diagnosed in their 20’s and 30’s.
‘If possible, I would really like to see breast checking introduced into secondary schools during health education talks.’
Debbie will be travelling along in the BooBee Bus for Breast Cancer Awareness month, visiting workplaces and key landmarks across her region to speak about her journey.
Debbie will be travelling along in the BooBee Bus for Breast Cancer Awareness month, visiting workplaces and key landmarks across her region to speak about her journey
Debbie is now passionate about educating others in the detection of cancer and raising awareness ‘to find better ways of preventing and treating this horrendous disease for future generations’
‘If by talking to people and raising awareness I can empower women and men to help themselves and enable the detection of cancer earlier, I will feel that I have accomplished something,’ she confessed.
Nikki Barraclough, executive director at Prevent Breast Cancer, said: ‘We are taking to the streets and landmarks of Manchester to help inspire and educate its residents.
‘Despite breast cancer being such a prevalent disease, there is still a lack of awareness in what to look out for, and how to reduce your personal risk of developing it.
‘The BooBee Bus will help educate people on relevant risk factors, particularly those relating to lifestyle and diet, that we can control.’
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