Woman diagnosed with cancer left heartbroken after being told lump was 'probably nothing'
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A cancer nurse received a devastating diagnosis after doctors said the lump in breast was 'probably nothing'.
Sophie Jackson, an oncology nurse from Bournemouth, found a mass in her right breast in September 2021.
After getting the lump checked, she was allegedly told by doctors it was likely hormonal and to wait four weeks to see if it disappeared.
Feeling something wasn't right, Sophie pushed for a referral to a breast clinic - despite experiencing no other symptoms.
She had an ultrasound the following month and four biopsies taken of the lump, but was left stunned when she was told that she had stage 2 invasive ductal carcinoma - an aggressive type of breast cancer.
"I cried my eyes out and first asked if I was going to die and second if I was going to lose all my hair," Sophie told NeedToKnow.online.
“I felt let down. The doctors initially thought it was nothing purely based on age.
“I feel frustrated on the guidance out there with the ‘stereotypical’ lumps to look for such as being hard or non-moveable as mine met all the criteria to be what they classed as ‘nothing’.
“If I’d left it four weeks like the GP suggested, it may have spread in that time and I’d have been looking at an incurable diagnosis.”
Sophie was also 'overwhelmed' with knowing exactly what would happen next after receiving her cancer diagnosis having worked on cancer wards.
"When I was diagnosed it was extremely overwhelming – usually you drip feed patient information as it is way too much to take on at once," she said.
"I didn’t have that luxury and instead was instantly aware of facing surgery, chemo, losing my hair and becoming infertile at such a young age.
"I think my job did help in a way as I didn’t have the expected anxieties about chemo. I knew what would happen, I knew the drugs, and I knew and trusted the people giving it to me which saved a lot of worrying."
Sophie has had to undergo a lumpectomy, six cycles of chemotherapy and 10 lots of radiotherapy, as well as fertility preservation.
She explained: “It felt really strange receiving chemotherapy drugs I’d given to other patients before, like an out of body experience.
“I was also in disbelief seeing my name on the chemo bag and having my details checked when it was usually me on the other side.
“It caused distress as being unwell meant I couldn’t work for a while which made me anxious – especially seeing my colleagues continue working and looking after me.”
After losing her hair, eyebrows and eyelashes during her first round of treatment, Sophie decided to shave after her second round and chose to wear headscarfs.
She will now be on maintenance hormone therapy for the next decade, which includes injections, tablets and IV infusions every six months and yearly MRIs.
After taking 10 months off work for treatment and recovery, she returned to work in July however her view of the job has now changed.
"I do feel differently about work," she shared. "I have much more empathy towards patients now and feel like I have a unique understanding.
"I do also have struggles though as I am also a cancer patient and still will be for a long time. The typical NHS with short staff, being overworked and not getting breaks leaves me run down and exhausted."
Although working on a cancer ward does sometimes cause Sophie periods of 'constant fear', she says that coming back to work has been a good distraction.
Sophie has been told that her cancer will likely to return within the next two years, but she is keen to raise awareness on the importance of advocating for your own health.
"I’d just love to spread awareness that cancer can affect you at a young age even with no family history, no genetics, no risk factors other than taking the contraceptive pill.
"Early detection has saved my life so it’s so important to check monthly and push to get things checked out.
"You are never wasting anyone’s time."
For more information on breast cancer visit the NHS website here.