Woman hit with surprise cancer diagnosis despite displaying no symptoms

This Morning: Breast cancer examination

A woman was shocked to discover she had breast cancer despite displaying no symptoms.

Julie Grabham, from Lampeter in Wales, attended a routine screening in 2022 and thought nothing of it.

While in the waiting room she even posted to social media, encouraging others to follow suit.

Speaking to Wales Online she said: “I did a social media post telling other women to get their screenings done as well, and said I know it’s not comfortable but it could save your life – little did I know what I was about to face.

“When I got the news, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me but it did.”

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The 54-year-old had never experienced a cancer scare before and lived a healthy and active lifestyle.

She did her best to remain positive after the news but said she struggled with the shock of the diagnosis as well as going through treatment.

“I always say, you get anxiety with cancer as well, because you’re just constantly on alert,” she said.

“I have kept working, because it helps me to stay busy.

“I didn’t want to wallow, or overthink everything so I’m just trying to get on with it and have different focuses.

“My family say I need to slow down a bit, but for me that’s not an option and they’re used to me now.”

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Julie had her tumour removed and underwent radiotherapy. She has since been declared cancer free.

She will remain on hormone therapy for 10 years, to slow or stop the growth of hormone-sensitive tumours.

Julie is also hoping to start Zometa infusions soon, which should lower the risk of cancer growing in her bones – a common secondary cancer that can occur after breast cancer.

Julie said: “I feel fine health wise, I feel very motivated because it’s breast cancer awareness month, and my cancer group which I meet monthly at The Angel Inn, near Porthcawl have been a huge support.”

She is scheduled for annual mammograms over the next five years to be sure the cancer doesn’t return.

Now Julie is calling for the Government to make it a law for employees to receive paid leave to get cancer screenings.

She was only able to attend her potentially life-saving screening due to the fact she runs her own business and could take the time off.

After speaking to her clients who work for different businesses she has realised it’s not as easy for everyone to get checked, prompting her to start a petition to change legislation.

Currently there is no UK legislation for leave entitlement to attend these appointments.

For her work so far Julie was recognised with an award for Innovation and Empowerment at the Butterfly Breast Cancer awards in Chester.

She added: “It is really important that women go, and policy is in place to allow that.

“Because at the moment it is a workplace lottery for if you have a boss who will be understanding about taking the time to attend screenings.

“I have spoken to some women who have got checked all because they heard about my story and campaign, so it really is about trying to stop the taboo around getting checked.

“We should have a policy in place so people know what support is on offer.

“If it wasn’t so easy for me to attend that appointment because I run my own business, I might not have gone because I felt so well.

“So that’s silly really, because that’s the reason why you should go to the screenings.

“If you found a lump or had symptoms then you would go to your GP. But the whole point of the screenings is to pick up what you can’t pick up yourself.”

To sign Julie’s petition visit‌ petition.parliament.uk/petitions/640028.

Common symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • A new lump or area of thickened tissue in either breast that was not there before
  • A change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
  • A discharge of fluid from either of your nipples
  • A lump or swelling in either of your armpits
  • A change in the look or feel of your skin, such as puckering or dimpling, a rash or redness
  • A rash (like eczema), crusting, scaly or itchy skin or redness on or around your nipple
  • A change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast.

If you experience any symptoms you should speak to your GP.

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