Damart were looking for colleagues to share their experiences of breast cancer. I thought it was a good idea to share my experience and support my workplace's Pink Vest campaign that encourages others touch, look, check their breasts.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2005 when I was 40. I had two young children to bring up on my own, with great support from family and friends. I didn't regularly check myself but I did find a small lump; I left this lump a few months before going to the doctors about it. Going to the doctors was the best thing I did as I had another lump that I wasn't aware of and couldn't feel. It only showed up on the mammogram.
When Damart were looking for colleagues to take part in our Pink Vest campaign, I thought I would take part to highlight how important it is to check yourself as it only takes minutes of your time and could save your life.
At around the age of 16 a family friend told me to "be the best and check my breasts" and from that day forward every month I followed that advice to touch, look and check my breasts. It was just after returning to work, following my maternity leave, that I noticed a small lump under my arm. Initially I dismissed it as a swollen lymph node due to being run down, trying to balance being a fulltime teacher and new mum. It was a few weeks later when my husband asked the doctor to take a quick look (we were actually at the GP for our daughter) and thankfully the GP did have a look and asked me to return. Following this second appointment, the GP then immediately referred me to the breast team at the hospital.
I was a little concerned but, like everyone I spoke to, I was convinced it was nothing more than a cycle which needed draining. Jump ahead a couple of weeks and my world collapsed. I was told the lump was cancer and the really challenging part was that at that point we didn't know where it had spread to the lymph nodes from.
All I could think at the time was will I see my daughter go to school? She was 10 months old at the time. Following a week of mammograms, an MRI and other tests, it was confirmed that I had breast cancer which had (as we already knew) spread to my lymph nodes. I was terrified but thankfully I had amazing support from close friends and family. I started chemotherapy within 6 weeks of my diagnosis, followed with a mastectomy and finally radiotherapy.
I consider myself very lucky to be able to watch my little girl grow up and I am thankful each and every day that I was told about regularly checking my breast - without touch, look, check I wouldn't be here watching my beautiful daughter grow up. I tell everyone I know how important it is that they check themselves regularly which is why I wanted to take part in Damart's Pink Vest campaign.
Lesley Anne Lewis
I was diagnosed with breast cancer back in 2006. I was devastated and scared for my future. After a long battle with appointments, surgery to have a mastectomy on my left breast, followed by six months of chemotherapy, I was finally putting my life back together with support from my husband and family. Ten years on, I found another lump in my right breast. This meant another mastectomy, more chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Although this was not good news, I've always been breast aware even before my previous breast cancer diagnosis meaning that I was able to detect the two lumps. I've always used the touch, look, check approach. Sometimes I'd check my breasts for anything unusual whilst I watched the telly. I believe that checking regularly has in some ways saved my life, because otherwise I wouldn't have noticed the two lumps. I now make sure my sister, niece and friends also use the touch, look, check approach.
Being involved with Damart's Pink Vest campaign has been an absolute honour, in more ways than one. It was great to meet other ladies and share our experiences, helping me to remember that it isn't just me that's going through it and that there are so many other people who are diagnosed with breast cancer. There were tears, laughter and also the boost in confidence which was a big bonus, so thank you Damart.
I'm now on the road to a good, healthy recovery and live each day to full max and enjoy my life. I don't think about 'shall I, shan't I' - I just do it, so much so that I did something out of character for me. I went to have a breast cancer ribbon tattooed onto my wrist, not to remind me of cancer, but to prove I'm a true warrior and most of all, a survivor!
My name is Karen and I'm 45 years old. I was diagnosed in May 2016; it was a shock as there was no family history and I have always kept a healthy lifestyle. This is why it is vital that everyone, whatever age, should check themselves regularly. If you feel anything with your body that is a bit different, get it checked.
I'm a mum of two teenage boys and a girl - my fight has been for them, to see them grow up and be there for them. Having a good support network around you is important and my family and friends were all there for me when I needed them. Being part of a group of women to have been through the same also helped me, to hear their stories and realise I'm not alone in this. I now have taken part in Damart's fashion show and Pink Vest campaign (things I would never have dared to do before!) to help raise funds for Breast Cancer Now, encourage others to check their breasts and to share our stories.
In October 2013, at the age of 45, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My treatment consisted of a course of chemotherapy, lumpectamy and radiotherapy.
I'm so glad to be part of Damart's Pink Vest campaign to help raise awareness of how important it is to keep checking your breasts. So, come on ladies be breast aware and touch, look and check those boobies!
Damart is proud to support Breast Cancer Now.
£5 from every sale will be donated to the charity. By buying one of these vests, you will be helping Breast Cancer Now to make life-saving research happen.
For each item sold, £5 of the purchase price will go to Breast Cancer Now. Breast Cancer Now is a working name of Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now, a charity registered in England and Wales (1160558) and Scotland (SC045584), and a business name of the registered charity in the Isle of Man (1200).
Meet our Lovely Ladies We're delighted that this year's pink vest is modelled by members of Bosom Friends and Damart employees that are facing breast cancer.