When Joanne and her husband, Andrew, went for their regular medical checkup, never did they think that irregular marks would be found on Joanne’s breast and that a hospital referral would follow.
When Joanne and her husband, Andew, went for their regular medical checkup, never did they think that irregular marks would be found on Joanne’s breast and that a hospital referral would follow. As a healthy 52-year-old, Joanne hadn’t displayed any normal symptoms of breast cancer and she was shocked to discover that the test results came back with an early-stage diagnosis at the start of the summer.
Joanne’s daughter, Jennifer, who studies at St Andrew’s University, was on hand over the summer to help care for her mum in the lead up to the mastectomy in October 2016. Here, Jennifer tells us her story:
“When Mum was first diagnosed, we had quite a logical and rational outlook on how we were going to come together as a family to fight the cancer. Luckily, we caught it in its earlier stages and it happened at the beginning of the summer when I could look after her. The hardest thing to witness was watching Mum being wheeled away for her operation, and not being able to go with her. The operation took five hours, and was the longest wait of my life.”
It was during her mum’s recovery that Jennifer first found out about Walk the Night. Having bought some magazines and treats for her mum, the two were flicking through the pages of the magazine when they came across the ad for Walk the Night. Already keen walkers, Jennifer and Joanne decided that they wanted to take part in the full marathon as a celebration of Jo’s recovery. As Walk the Night is the first event they'd seen that allows men to also take part, Jennifer’s dad also signed up to make it a family challenge.
Jennifer is currently waiting for her mum to recover enough so that she can go back to university in St. Andrews, Scotland, and they can hold their first fundraising event – an afternoon tea party.
When asked why her family wanted to raise money for Breast Cancer Care and Prostate Cancer UK, Jennifer explains: “The support that we received from our local hospital was incredible and we feel like we can call the medical team there our friends. Even though we know that cancer is always there and threatening us, we won’t go down without a fight and let the memories of loved ones go down in vain. We will be taking part as a family to celebrate beating cancer!”
“I’d always been an advocate of the importance of regular medical checks and healthy living, so when I went along for a medical checkup with my husband, I didn’t expect for the medical staff to find anything out of the ordinary. When the GP raised concerns about some marks on my breast tissue, I was referred to the hospital ten days later for a consultation and underwent a procedural mammogram, which resulted in an early-stage diagnosis of breast cancer.
I had my family to support me every step of the way. My daughter, Joanne, took a rational outlook on my diagnosis and was determined to be positive throughout this daunting journey, by looking for solutions to minimise any potential problems. I also made sure that I ate healthily and exercised regularly, so that I could be as fit as possible for the mastectomy taking place in October.”
Joanne underwent a Tug Mastectomy, where her right breast was removed and fat was taken from her thigh to form a replacement. Although the operation was successful, her thigh wound ended up getting infected through a burst blood vessel, setting her recovery back a further two weeks.
When Joanne first saw the ad for Walk the Night she was immediately determined to set this as her goal for recovery. For Joanne, Walk the Night offers the opportunity to support and raise awareness of the importance of checking for cancer, as well as giving back to the medical staff that looked after her throughout her cancer journey.
She adds: “Although cancer can leave scars, both physically and mentally, it can make you appreciate each day and view life as a blessing. I was fortunate enough to have an early diagnosis, and to have received excellent treatment. I won’t let cancer define me. I know some days will be challenging and there will be hurdles, but I am stronger and more capable than I thought. Cancer tried to bring me down but I am stronger and determined to live life to the fullest, starting with Walk the Night next year to celebrate my full recovery.”
Jennifer, Joanne, and her husband, Andrew, will be taking part with six others in a team called ‘Tug of War’, named after Joanne’s operation.Find out more about Walk The Night