A mum who discovered she had breast cancer while breastfeeding her baby is urging women to be vigilant and check their boobs.
Although many people assume the disease is something that affects people in their later years, sadly approximately 10,000 women under the age of 50 are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.
Jessica Parsons was within this statistic, having been diagnosed in June after noticing an unusual lump while feeding her seven-month-old daughter Inès.
The 36-year-old initially assumed it was just a post-pregnancy issue, and she was understandably shocked when she found out the truth.
Jessica was diagnosed with a rare form of the disease called metaplastic squamous cell carcinoma, which makes up less than 2 per cent of breast cancer cases.
Now she's bravely sharing her story to encourage women to regularly check themselves for unusual lumps or changes in their breasts as part of October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Jessica, who lives in Somerset, UK, and has two children, said: "To be told I had cancer was a massive shock. I never thought of myself as untouchable but I was young, fit, and lived a healthy life.
"I had also breastfed my son Stanley, so I knew that your breasts could change and feel a bit different.
"I thought it could be a blocked milk duct. But, after two days, I went to my GP and was promptly referred to the Royal United Hospital (RUH) in Bath.
"Once I'd started to come to terms with the news, I felt determined to stay positive and take things one day at a time."
The human resources staffer, who was on maternity leave at the time of her diagnosis, has been documenting her journey on Instagram.
She continued: "I set up my Instagram account to share updates about how I am, but also to spread the word that it's so important to know your body and check yourself regularly - and that includes men, too.
"It's really uncommon to have breast cancer when you're under 40, but I'm proof that it can happen.
"I know it can feel scary, because what if you find something? But it's better to know so you can get it checked as soon as possible."
As for her treatment, Jessica is nearly at the end of six months of chemotherapy, but she said she will still have to undergo a mastectomy later this year.
The surgery will be followed by radiotherapy treatment to hopefully lead to her getting the all clear.
"The care I have received at the RUH has been exceptional," added Jessica.
"I feel like I can really trust the team caring for me, which makes a very difficult situation feel so much easier."
Adding to the conversation, RUH consultant surgeon Jamie McIntosh said: "One in five breast cancers is in women before they reach the menopause, and we have seen the number of younger women being diagnosed increase in the last 10 years.
"That's why it's really important to be aware of any changes. This includes lumps but also, especially in younger women, things like changes to skin texture, change in breast shape or a feeling of thickening rather than a distinct lump.
"The good news is that there are some amazing things happening in breast cancer research and treatment development, including many new treatments that are really specifically targeted to the type of breast cancer a patient has.
"For many people finding a lump won't mean they have cancer, but if it does our team is here to look after you every step of the way."
For information, resources and tips on how to check your breasts, head to the CoppaFeel! website
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