Cancer survivor from Apsley urges women to think about fertility
A year after her diagnosis and four months since her final chemotherapy appointment, Becky Leach is looking forward to the future.
The 35-year-old who lives in Apsley was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2015. This month, having fought off cancer, Becky will attend a Breast Cancer Care Moving Forward course, which gives women in the same position a chance to share their experiences.
And her story started with a discovery which not many people associate with breast cancer. “I first noticed that my nipple had become inverted,” Becky said. “It was very slight at first, and I wasn’t concerned at all, I thought it was probably just a hormonal change.
“I had my sister’s wedding coming up, so I put it to the back of my mind. But when the nipple became even more pulled in, it prompted me to check further, and that’s when I found a lump.”
Becky went to her GP, and when he referred her to the breast clinic on an urgent two-week referral, it hit home that it could be serious. Still, her diagnosis was a shock: “Telling people was truly horrible. My family don’t live nearby so I had to break the news over the phone. Each time I rang someone to tell them I couldn’t say the words without crying.
“Once I got used to the idea of surgery I was OK with it. But I was very nervous about chemotherapy, it just felt like another mountain to climb with far-reaching effects into all parts of my life.”
As a younger woman with breast cancer, Becky realised that chemotherapy might affect her chances of one day having children.
A recent survey by Breast Cancer Care found 53 per cent of younger women diagnosed with breast cancer have no discussion with healthcare professionals about fertility preservation options – which include freezing embryos or eggs.
Becky said: “Once my chemotherapy treatment got the go ahead, there was no mention of fertility preservation options at all.
“I had to raise the fertility question myself. If I hadn’t it wouldn’t have even been on the agenda.
“Your head can feel all over the place after a breast cancer diagnosis, but as a young woman it’s so important you get the chance to pause and think and talk about your future fertility.
She added: “Having all the information and access to support are crucial to help you make a decision you’ll be happy with once you finish treatment and are moving forward with the rest of your life.”
For care, support, and information, call Breast Cancer Care free on 0808 800 6000 or visit www.breastcancercare.org.uk