St Heliers grandmother, Raewyn Francis, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 and says BCAC’s Step by Step  was her ‘soul mate’ throughout her treatment programme.

Raewyn had had a small lump in her breast since the late ‘80s and was usually good about going for her regular mammograms in order to keep an eye on it.

In 2012, she noted the lump had slightly changed shape.  About the same time she received her yearly reminder for breast screening, but didn’t get around to making an appointment because she was busy and stressed with other things going on in her life.  Then one day, her boss insisted she ‘just make the appointment and go before work ’.  To this day Raewyn will be forever thankful.

She had her mammogram and was called back for a further mammogram and ultrasound, before a biopsy was recommended.

The biopsy revealed that she had a malignant tumour in her left breast.  Says Raewyn, “It was my worst fear come true and I just went numb “. Raewyn had a mastectomy, followed by chemotherapy and radiation therapy.  She finished her treatment in early 2013.

During the process Raewyn said “ It felt like I was on a freight train, with no way to get off.”

She used BCAC’s Step by Step support pack throughout her treatment and says she found the journal particularly therapeutic. By documenting her personal thoughts and feelings along the way it became part of the healing process. It was also useful to record her progress and the side-effects.

“When I couldn’t sleep I would write, it was a great  way of getting ‘stuff’ out of my head.”

Raewyn says her message to other women is to listen to their bodies and monitor their breasts for any changes.  She says in hindsight apart from the fact that the original lump had changed shape, she also had been feeling tired and her armpit had been ‘feeling funny’. She should have acknowledged these signs and made an appointment for a mammogram a  lot earlier than she did.

“I guess I just want to encourage other women, young or old, to be aware of their bodies.  Follow up on any lumps or changes and defiantly take the ‘time’ to make that appointment to see either a doctor or have a mammogram.  Don’t put it off.”