BREAST CANCER SHOCK: 'I was diagnosed at the same time as my mum'
Here’s my story about Mary and Beverley - a mother and daughter who were diagnosed with breast cancer at the same time. I got them a deal with The Mirror #breastcancer#raisingawareness #checkyourbreasts #dailymirror
A mother and her daughter were shocked to be diagnosed with breast cancer within four weeks of each other.
Last year, Beverley Griffiths, 49, noticed one of her breasts was growing bigger than the other and she went up a bra size, around the same time her mum Mary Martin, 72, found a lump.
However, they didn’t tell each other about their symptoms because they were trying to protect each other.
When Mary, who lives in Wantage, Oxfordshire, went to the doctor after finding a lump, there were two family birthdays coming up – Beverley’s and her husband Paul’s who was turning 50 - so she didn’t want her bad news to spoil the celebrations.
Mary said: “I didn’t want to say anything but then I decided to speak to Beverley’s husband about my diagnosis, and he told me I needed to speak to Bev because she had breast cancer symptoms too.”
Days later, Mary revealed to her daughter she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
By this point, Beverley had visited her GP and was booked in for tests, which she had kept quiet. But on discovering her mum's news and the date of her mum’s pre-operation appointment, she realised they would both be sitting in the same hospital waiting room at the same time.
In that moment, she knew she had to tell her mum her own secret. She told her about her breast being bigger and that she thought there was something suspicious so had booked to have tests in case it was breast cancer too.
Beverley, from Oxfordshire, said: "I was so upset to hear Mum had breast cancer and I couldn't believe the timing - deep down I knew I had it too. But it did mean we were both in it together and I couldn't have asked for anyone better to support me."
Weeks later, the two women went to Churchill Hospital in Oxford, the site of the Oxford Cancer Centre.
Beverley said: “It was very surreal being in the waiting room at the same time, I kept playing it down saying I was sure it was nothing. I didn’t want Mum to worry with her surgery coming up.
She adds: “When I was diagnosed a week later, I broke down. I just couldn’t believe we had been diagnosed within four weeks of each other.”
“My husband was with me when I was diagnosed and my mum was waiting to hear from us. As soon as we left the appointment, we phoned her. I couldn’t talk, I was just so upset.”
Mary had a mastectomy in April last year – she had her right breast removed – and needed no further treatment.
But Beverley needed chemotherapy first, followed by a mastectomy six months after her mum – she had her left breast removed. Finally, she had radiotherapy which she finished in January this year.
Beverley, a regional sales manager said: “All the way through chemotherapy Mum kept saying to me she felt so guilty because I was having to go through it and she wasn’t. She said she wished it was her and not me. She felt she got off lightly, but I kept telling her she had breast cancer and surgery too. She felt guilty she had to watch me go through it.
“After Mum’s surgery, we talked about how she felt physically and how she felt mentally, she is like me though, a glass half full kind of girl, and as she said, she’d rather have the mastectomy and be healthy and alive.”
“When I had my surgery, we compared scars afterwards and we went to sort our breast prosthesis together.”
Both mum and daughter said the experience has brought them closer than ever.
Mary said: “We have always had a good relationship and we didn’t tell each other our bad news because we were trying to protect each other’s feelings. We told each other that same day and realised we would be at hospital at the same time. I was going for my pre-op appointment and Bev was going for her biopsy.”
Beverley said: “I’m so lucky to have had Mum there for me through the whole thing. There have been days when I haven’t really been able to talk so she will just come and sit with me – I don’t need to say anything. She got me through days when I just thought ‘how am I going to get through the next five minutes let alone the next day.”
“My work had taken over so much of my life. I have been in my job for 15 years, and has full-on hours so I didn’t see much of my family. Mum would ring me and say ‘I haven’t spoken to you for two or three weeks’. Now, that’s massively changed. It’s brought us closer together. I feel guilty now if I haven’t seen her two or three times a week. We’re always on the phone checking on each other.”
During treatment, Beverley used Breast Cancer Care’s online forums to speak to other women going through breast cancer. She also used the charity’s mobile app, BECCA, for information and tips. Now, she is attending the charity’s Moving Forward course which helps women find their new normal after breast cancer treatment.
She said walking her dog Joey has helped her get through treatment.
“Even when I had days when I didn’t want to do anything, I’ve got up to take him for a walk, sometimes on my own but normally with my husband Paul,” she said.
“Some days I couldn’t go too far or could only do part of the normal walk but he’s help me keep reasonably active.”
Beverley and her mum are raising funds to support people affected by breast cancer at the Breast Cancer Care Pink Ribbon Walk in association with Skechers. To sign up, visit breastcancercare.org.uk/ribbonwalk