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Sarah’s Story

A 52-year-old breast cancer patient wants to highlight the importance of attending regular health screenings after a routine mammogram revealed two lumps in her breast.

Sarah Jones, 52, from Snailbeach, was invited for her first mammogram in January 2021 which showed two lumps. She was called back for further tests which revealed DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma in situ) along with stage one and stage two masses.

On the occasion of her second follow-up mammogram since her operation Sarah invited Lingen Davies to join her and learn more about what’s involved.

I wasn’t remotely concerned about my first mammogram, I had no symptoms but was called back in for a stereotactic ultrasound. They took some samples and had seen some lumps so they wanted me back for more tests. That was in January 2021.

A week later I was invited to PRH to see the consultant and I was told I had DCIS, I had two lumps, different sizes, and cells stuck together, stage one and stage two.

There’s a history of cancer in the family but not breast cancer. My mum had oesophegal cancer and I lost her in 2020. And when I was about 12 my Granny had gastric cancer. I’ve had tests since they discovered my cancer which have revealed mine wasn’t genetic but hormonal.

Due to having two lumps in her breast Sarah was recommended an operation to remove it, and offered reconstructive surgery at the same time.

Because I had two lumps and a lot of shadowing they said I was safer to take the whole thing off than do a lumpectomy. I was quite happy for that because then it was all gone, there would be no need to take bits at a later date.

If I wanted reconstruction as well I had to go to Wolverhampton, Shrewsbury was only doing mastectomies at the time because of Covid so I would have had to wait for reconstruction. I’m so glad I decided that, I wanted to wake up with something else there after my operation.

Mrs Matey was amazing. I was advised not to have reconstruction from my stomach done because radiotherapy would possibly kill off her work, so we went for an implant which I’m really pleased with.

Having lost her Mum in 2020 Sarah and her husband Pat had spent some time considering their lifestyle and had made changes to suit their new outlook. They retired from their own butchers business and went to work for others.

We decided we wanted a change of life so finished our own business and now we’re employed by other people we’re not worrying about the business, we don’t have to think about work outside of work. That was really valuable during my treatment, we only had to focus on me getting better. My mum dying was the trigger for us to sort ourselves out. When Mum got poorly we spoke about it and when we lost her we decided to do something about it.

My family have all been great throughout this too. I’ve got two girls and a son. I was in Telford by myself when I was given my diagnosis, the worst part of it all was thinking I had to tell my family and the logistics of actually telling them.

I told my husband and middle daughter I had had a mammogram and the doctors had found something and I have breast cancer. We had just lost my mum, the timing was a bit of a killer. My son and youngest daughter had their partners with them, they were both very emotional.

They ferried me everywhere, I’ve got great friends and a community around me, people really supported us all.

Thanks to attending the mammogram the cancer was found early enough to do something about it.

I feel so thankful I went to that mammogram and they found it. If I hadn’t I could have had to sit there with my kids telling them there was nothing that could be done. If it had been worse I might have had to have chemotherapy and we know how hard that is on people. If I had been self-employed my family’s life would have been harder, they would have had to run the business while I was sorting myself out.

I work for Aldi and was given nine months off. I feel very lucky everything happened as it did.

My initial surgery and reconstruction was in March 21, and they ran various scans to determine whether radiotherapy or chemotherapy was necessary. I was recommended 15 sessions of radiotherapy at the Lingen Davies Cancer Centre in June 21.

In October 21 I had a tummy tuck to make my boob, they could have used my nipple but they were worried there were cancer cells there too so they took it all off. I had no qualms about having my breast removed, I wanted it all gone.

After the operation I was uncomfortable but I was out of bed after 24 hours. It was about 12 months before I was able to lie down properly on that side though. The swelling went down after two months, I feel very grateful I had time to properly recuperate.

Sarah now has to attend annual mammograms and has thankfully had no worries or concerns in the last year.

During her 10 minute appointment, Sarah had to remove the clothes on her top half and images were taken of her remaining breast (they don’t need to check the reconstructed one). By manipulating the breast into place between two plastic plates the technology can capture 360° images which are then sent to film readers in Shrewsbury and then they send them to the consultants, and radiographers and consultant radiologist.

At least two people read them and then the consultant feeds back to Sarah.

She is now focussing her efforts on raising awareness and fundraising for cancer charities.

I just want to encourage others to look after themselves now...

I really want to encourage other people to get on with it and check themselves, attend their screenings and look after themselves.

15 months on life is normal and I walk a lot. I’m doing the Moon Walk which is 26.2 miles which I’m really excited about, there’s 10 of us taking part we’re Maxine’s Moaners named after a friend who lost her life to ovarian cancer.

I had some counselling in the Hamar Centre while I was being treated, as far as my cancer is concerned I’m fine with it, I joke about it, how I’ve had a tummy tuck and boob job.

I just want to encourage others to look after themselves now, to walk and live healthy lifestyles. I also tell people to take pictures of themselves once a year and look at their boobs for differences. I think it’s easier to notice things then.

I had absolutely no symptoms myself and if I hadn’t gone for that routine mammogram I may not be here now, it would have been a completely different story.

Anyone registered with a GP in the UK as female will be invited for NHS breast screening every three years between the ages of 50 and 71. You will get a letter in the post inviting you to attend.