Anne G's story
Anne Galway, from County Down, shares her experience of surviving breast cancer to encourage women to be breast aware and to go to their GP if they experience any symptoms.
In the summer of 2007, newsagent Anne, 48, took a tumble off her horse and landed on her shoulder. A physio advised stretching her shoulder by raising her arm up and stretching her hand above head.
If you notice anything that isn’t normal or that you’re concerned about, talk to your GP without delay.
“On doing the stretches, I noticed that part of my left breast pulled in like a dimple, but the right one didn’t. I’m someone who tries to avoid bothering the doctor, but I knew something wasn’t right, so I made an appointment with the GP.
“I was sent to the one stop clinic for a mammogram, which was clear. I went straight to ultrasound and all looked ok. However, I'd felt a slight pain, like a nail scratching on my skin, so the consultant used a long needle to take a biopsy, and said it would take ten minutes to get the result.
“I waited for the outcome, hoping everything would come back clear, but knew something was wrong as three people were in the room when I went to get the results.
“I was told I had breast cancer. My main concern was how I was going to work as I have a shop.
“The health service is fantastic. I was taken for my operation on a Wednesday and was home by Friday.
“I didn't need chemotherapy as it was caught early, and had five weeks of radiotherapy which left me a bit tender, but I worked every day.
“I took medication for five years afterwards to help prevent any recurrence. It gave me sore feet, mainly when I woke up, but I dealt with it. It was a tiny price to pay for having had my life saved.
“I have continued to ride (and fall of my horse – even knocked unconscious three years ago)!
“I feel great and have joined Lagan Dragons dragon boat racing team. This is a fantastic initiative that provides breast cancer survivors with the opportunity to participate in dragon boat racing. It encourages people who have been diagnosed and treated for breast cancer to lead full and positive lives, raises awareness about breast cancer and provides support and fellowship to team members, and I love being part of it.
“Although no one knows what the future holds, I’m living life to the max. I get checked every year and had ultrasound last year, and so far so good.
“My advice to all women is to be breast aware. Check yourself regularly and know what is normal for you. Make sure you’re aware of the potential signs and symptoms of breast cancer, and if you notice anything that isn’t normal or that you’re concerned about, talk to your GP without delay.
“Every woman’s experience of breast cancer is different. I was lucky that I caught it early, so the treatment was effective and less invasive, and I’m here today living my life and enjoying it because of this.”