‘You never think it will happen to you – until it does’
Mum of two Claire Murphy, remembers the day when she was diagnosed with breast cancer – all she could think of was her young boys and how they would cope.
The 42-year-old had noticed the skin on her right breast had become hard and when it did not clear after two weeks, she made an appointment with her GP. Claire was then referred to Warrington Hospital for further tests and underwent a mammogram and ultrasound examination.
A biopsy revealed that she sadly had an invasive form of breast cancer. Further tests revealed she in fact had grade two multifocal breast cancer – which meant the cancer was growing and was present in more than one area of her breast. The cancer had also spread to her lymph nodes.
Claire recalls how her thoughts quickly turned to her children: “The diagnosis came as a complete shock for me. Cancer is something you know and hear about but you never imagine it will happen to you – until it does.
“All I could think about when I left the hospital was my two boys. How was I ever going to be able to tell them? How would they cope with it all and would they even understand what cancer is?
“In the end I decided to tell them everything from the beginning. I didn’t want to hide anything from them and most importantly I didn’t want them to be scared by anything.”
Eight year old Jake and six year old Joshua were extremely brave when confronted with news of their mum’s illness and Claire credits them with helping her get through her treatment.
She said: “My two boys were amazing they took everything in their stride and really helped me through everything. It wasn’t until I started losing my hair after my treatment that they got a bit upset, but even then they were incredible.”
Claire underwent eight sessions of chemotherapy at Halton General Hospital to stop the cancer from spreading beyond her breast. Two months later she underwent a single mastectomy to remove the affected breast tissue. Following this Claire’s cancer was downgraded to grade one and this allowed her to undergo a course of radiotherapy treatment to destroy the cancerous cells.
Claire has thankfully received a positive prognosis. She finished all active treatment in January this year and is awaiting a date for reconstruction. Claire has regular appointments with her oncologist for follow ups and will continue to do so for the next 5 years. She will also have annual mammograms.
Claire said: “Since finishing treatment I have been doing really well. Fatigue and hot flushes are the only symptoms I am experiencing now and my hair is growing back quickly. I intend to go back to work after my operation.”
Thanks to the support of one of her close family members, Claire recently became involved with North West Cancer Research. She is actively encouraging people to be more aware of the early signs of cancer, especially breast cancer.
Her young boys have also been avid fundraisers for the charity. Most recently her eldest son Jake tackled a 5k run and raised more than £400, which will now help support cancer research projects in the North West.
“Every day I look at my 2 children and realise how lucky I am to have them and to be here to see them grow! Things could have been very different. I don’t take anything for granted though, and I do worry every single day about chances of recurrence.”
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