Mum diagnosed with breast cancer says doctor told her she was 'too young for the disease'
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A mum was left heartbroken when a worrying lump in her breast turned out to be breast cancer, after being reassured by a doctor that she was 'too young' for the disease.
When Melissa Fisher first discovered the golf-sized lump in her right breast back in September 2020, she immediately booked an appointment with her GP.
The mum was told that she had 'nothing to worry about' and that, since she was just aged 27, it was 'definitely not cancer.'
It's no wonder, then, that Melissa was left speechless when she was diagnosed with stage one, grade three, HER2+ invasive ductal carcinoma - an aggressive type of breast cancer.
"It was horrific to hear those words [when diagnosed]", said Melissa.
"I remember bursting into tears.
"I think the first thing that came out of my mouth was 'I'm going to die, my daughter is going to grow up without a mum'."
Thankfully, Melissa was reassured that she'd caught the cancer early and that it was treatable.
The mum-of-one then underwent gruelling treatment which included a lumpectomy, three weeks of fertility preservation, six rounds of chemotherapy and a fortnight of radiotherapy.
She recalled: "It's a completely obviously vain thing to have but losing your hair was one of the hardest parts for me.
"My hair was my crown. It was my favourite part of me and l know that sounds stupid but obviously losing it is like completely losing your identity."
Melissa finally finished her treatment in October 2021, and started taking anti-anxiety medication and attending CBT therapy to help her anxiety and PTSD.
"It helped me live again because people think once you've been through cancer treatment, you're finished, you're cured and you're fine, but in reality, it's not."
Now celebrating a year in remission, Melissa is now raising awareness of the importance of routine breast checks, hoping her story of overcoming cancer can be a 'beacon of hope' for anyone going through treatment.
She now urges everyone to be their 'biggest advocate' and to be persistent if doctors don't initially take your symptoms seriously.
Thinking back to her original doctor's appointment, she said: "One of the biggest things that really frustrates me is that people say 'oh, you're too young, you don't have to worry about it' but in reality cancer can hit anybody at any age.
"I don't think they should be words that come out of a doctor's mouth. I feel like doctors shouldn't say that to you until they can be 100% certain that it is or isn't cancer because it obviously took me massively by surprise."
A Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust spokesman said: "Whilst we can not comment on individual patient cases, we can assure people that when patients are referred to our hospital with breast cancer symptoms, they are investigated thoroughly to establish a diagnosis."
For advice, support and information, visit Breast Cancer Now.