For Lianne Marsh, 22.02.22 is a date that she’ll never forget. Aged just 33, and as a mum of two young children, she was diagnosed with Stage 3 Invasive Lobular Breast Cancer.
Fast forward a mere 8 months after diagnosis, and still going through treatment, she made it her mission to tell her story, raise awareness and help others in the process, by signing up as a BooBee Ambassador.
The BooBees are 100 women, affected by breast cancer, who have joined together to spread awareness and fundraise for a future without breast cancer. They have recently spearheaded BooBee’s Big Campaign 2022, raising thousands of pounds in the process for breast cancer research.
Lianne has very kindly shared her breast cancer experience with us and explained why she joined this vitally important campaign in support of Prevent Breast Cancer.
Can you tell us a bit about your diagnosis?
Before breast cancer came into my life, I, probably like many others, had no idea there were so many different types, stages and grades of cancer, and so many different ways it can present itself, signs and symptoms wise.
Typically, when you hear of someone having discovered they have breast cancer, they tell you they’ve found a lump. But a lump isn’t always a tell-tale sign. My breast was rock hard after my run, and I could feel a large thickening of the breast tissue as opposed to a lump. After seeing the doctor and consultant, they too confirmed that they could feel the large thickening, two smaller lumps at the side of my boob and my lymph nodes in my armpit were swollen. I was fit and healthy, and so it was completely unexpected.
What happened next?
During my first appointment with my consultant, I had an ultrasound, three biopsies and a mammogram to determine whether the cells were cancerous. Whilst the biopsies were sent off for testing, I had an MRI scan and a CT scan to assess whether the cancer had spread elsewhere.
My diagnosis is Stage 3 Invasive Lobular Breast Cancer. This means the cancer started in the lobules/milk glands and has spread into the surrounding breast tissue. Stage 3 refers to the fact it has spread to the lymph nodes in the armpit and sometimes to other lymph nodes nearby. The grading is 3 which means that the cells look very different from normal cells and grow more quickly than grade 1 or 2. Time is therefore of the essence with treatment. Also, I had nodules on my lungs too, which were thankfully, completely resolved with chemotherapy.
What kind of treatment did you have?
I had 12 rounds of chemotherapy, a single mastectomy and 15 rounds of radiotherapy; active treatment ended in October 2022.
Are you still receiving any treatment?
Yes. As my cancer was oestrogen driven, my body needs to be starved of oestrogen to stop the cancer from coming back, which also means a medically induced menopause at 33 years old.
I have a monthly Zoladex injection to suppress my ovaries, which I will continue to have for 10 years or until I decide to have my ovaries removed. I am also taking a drug called Letrozole for 10 years which stops my body from making oestrogen. In addition, I have recently started a newly approved anti-cancer drug called Abemaciclib, which I will take for 2 years to lower the chance of recurrence. Abemaciclib has chemo like side effects which is taking some getting used to.
What inspired you to take part in BooBee’s Big Campaign?
I’m a mum to young children, now 5 and 2 years old. I was 33 when I was diagnosed. It came out of nowhere and turned our lives upside down. I have therefore made it my mission to tell my story and raise awareness to help me process it and to help others.
If you have breast tissue, you can get breast cancer; it doesn’t matter if you are male or female, old or young, had children or not had children, married or single – cancer does not discriminate and does not care! Take the time to check your chests as the consequences otherwise can be life changing.
Thanks to Lianne for sharing her journey to becoming a BooBee Ambassador with us today.
Make sure to check out Lianne’s website – Blogging the Dreaded C – where she has documented her breast cancer experience.