• Clare Woolrich

Take That concert a week after my mastectomy? Wouldn't miss it for the world!!

My name is Clare and I’m 44 years old and I live in Crewe, Cheshire with my little dog Lily who is 9 years old. Having the support from family and friends while going though cancer made a big difference to me. Lily never left my side during my treatment, it's like she knew I was seriously ill. It’s funny but you do find out when you go though something as life changing as cancer who is really there for you. The thing that helped me get me though all this is my love for music and my love of Take That and Gary Barlow -I have been a massive fan for 30 years!! I had concert tickets to see Take That a week after my mastectomy, I didn’t want to miss the concert as long as I didn’t jump around I would be ok.

You must be thinking I’m mad to go to a concert in Manchester a week after major surgery but I didn’t want to miss it, I wasn’t going to let cancer decide what I could and couldn’t do.

I also decided to share my diagnosis online and kept everyone up to date on my treatment especially with photos. It helped me to share my journey, if it helps anyone else going though the same thing then I am happy. Going though something like this puts everything into perspective. Life’s way too short and makes you realise what's important! It’s not what you have it’s who you have around you to love and care for you at times like this.

In April 2017 I was diagnosed with grade 3 aggressive invasive ductal breast cancer which was HER2+ hormone based, I had just turned 41 years old when I was diagnosed. I’ve always wondered if I will end up getting breast cancer eventually as I have a family history of breast cancer. My mum was diagnosed when she was 50 years old and it came back a few years later. She went on to have a mastectomy and radiotherapy, her cousin was also diagnosed at the same time but she sadly passed away. I always thought there is a chance it will be passed down to me. I always checked myself regularly because of my family history of this dreadful disease. One night I was lying down in bed and I came across a lump in my right breast. I phoned the doctors the next day and they got me an appointment right away to get it checked out. I told my doctor that I had a family history of breast cancer, she couldn’t find the lump herself but said come back in a weeks time and if it’s still there she will send me to the hospital to get it looked in to further.

  A week went by and I went back to the doctors as discussed. She felt the small lump and referred me to the hospital just because of the family history and to be sure their wasn't anything more serious going on. It didn’t take long for my appointment to come though the post! I went to the hospital to see the specialist a week later, the doctor checked me and they did feel something so they arranged for me to go straight to have a mammogram and ultrasound. Being 41 this would be my first mammogram. The mammogram wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, a little uncomfortable because I am so big chested but it only lasted a minute. I was then told to wait outside and they will come and get me once they had checked the scan.  I then had to wait in another room as I would have to have an ultrasound as well. They wanted to check me further as the mammogram picked up a mass in my left breast. I also had to have a biopsy done, this wasn’t too bad just a bit sore afterwards! I was told I would get the results within a week and I will get an appointment time through the post.

When I went back to get my results I was so nervous as I did know deep down the mass in my left breast had to be something! I was seated in a room with the consultant and a Macmillan nurse. They went on to tell me the results...

"I'm so sorry to say you have breast cancer "

I just felt like I wasn’t really there in the room. It was a shock to me even though I was expecting something. I started to cry at this point. The next step was to be an appointment with the surgeon to discuss what type of operation to have. They wanted me to have just a lumpectomy initially, I was certain I wanted a mastectomy to get rid of the whole breast and any chance of the cancer coming back a second time, like it did with my mum.