We caught up with one of our fantastic fundraisers, Leisha Cronin, to find out about her story, and to see how her, her family and her friends are supporting Prevent Breast Cancer.
At the start of 2018, things were looking good for the Cronin family. Me and my husband, Mike, were due to start new jobs and were looking forward to having a fresh start – life was good.
Back in 2004, my mum bravely fought but sadly lost her battle with breast cancer. After a conversation with my sister, we both decided that it was time we thought seriously about our risk of developing the disease ourselves. We wanted to make sure that if we had anything to worry about, we’d be under medical care, so it would be caught early.
Fast forward to March and I was having my first-ever mammogram at The Nightingale Centre at Wythenshawe Hospital, under the care of the family history clinic. Two weeks later, I was called back to the hospital for what I thought was a more in-depth scan, but it turned out to be biopsies in my breast and underarm to check over some abnormalities that had been picked up in the mammogram.
I left that appointment with instructions to come back to see the consultant five days later. The five days were a blur, clinging to the hope that the abnormalities would turn out to be nothing to worry about. There was no way to prepare for the next words I heard: “I’m sorry, but it’s breast cancer. Probably stage II.”
The bottom fell out of my world in an instant. I looked over at Mike, thinking about our son. Mike nodded at me. We’d discussed this eventuality so many times since my mum had died – we had a plan. We knew what we would say to the consultant. I took a deep breath, turned to the consultant and the breast nurse, and said “please just remove both of them”.
Three weeks later, after endless discussions and appointments, I underwent a double mastectomy and total lymph node clearance on my left side. The results were the best news I could have hoped for – three small tumours had been removed during the mastectomy and cancer was only found in one of my lymph nodes. I was cancer-free, but I would need preventative chemotherapy to make sure there were no stray cancer cells in my body.
The prognosis was good, but I was told I would need six rounds of chemotherapy, followed by ten years on a drug called Tamoxifen. Chemo was extremely tough, but my family and friends helped me get through it – I had constant messages of support, phone calls when I needed them the most, and people offering to run me to appointments when Mike was unable to. I felt so lucky.
This year, we formed Team Leisha Kicks Cancer to raise money for The Nightingale Centre and Macmillan Cancer Support to give something back to both – after all, without them, I wouldn’t be here to see my son grow up.
I pledged to walk 1000 miles during 2019, whilst other members of my team each decided to take on their own challenges – in May, my amazing friend Amy Brown took part in the Great Manchester Run to help us reach our target. My son, his friends and their parents signed up for Manchester Pretty Muddy 5k in July, which was brilliant.
As of October, I have walked 1000 miles, including several 10k walks and two Race For Life challenges. I will also be taking part in the 2020 Manchester 10K to support Prevent Breast Cancer. I am so grateful to my incredible team for all of their support and walking so many of those miles alongside me!
If you’d like to support Leisha and her team, you can make a donation and help her smash her target!