Sue Murby was diagnosed with breast cancer aged 48, two years younger than the age mammograms are normally offered.

In our latest blog, she tells us how she turned her breast cancer diagnosis into a positive thing, including joining a breast cancer dragon boat team. 

I’m ashamed to admit that I never checked my boobs – especially as there was no family history at all.

One night I just couldn’t get to sleep and crossed my arms in frustration and that’s when I felt a lump on the outside of my right breast; had it been in any other location I wouldn’t have felt it and that’s a sobering thought!

Following an urgent referral, I had an ultrasound and was told that the lump looked cancerous. I returned to the clinic waiting room and tried to read my book but kept staring at the same line thinking about my teenage daughter and what effect this would have on her.

My mind wandered further, and I remember thinking – hang on, I’ve found this early and there is an effective treatment, so let’s get on with it. I vowed to stay positive as I believe that the person you are isn’t defined by what happens to you, but how you react to it!

I had almost a year of treatment. First was a lumpectomy, but the cancer had spread to the sentinel node. Strange as it sounds, the fact that it had spread probably hit me harder than the original diagnosis. I needed a second operation to remove all my lymph nodes but thankfully no others were affected.

Chemotherapy wasn’t pleasant and was delayed on a couple of occasions due to my adverse reactions; but it was a means to an end. My daughter had the dubious honour of shaving my head as my hair started to fall out – after she’d chosen me a stylish wig!

Radiotherapy followed and I completed treatment just before Christmas 2015.

I already knew that I had some fantastic family and friends, and I certainly couldn’t have got through it without them. I was, and am, very humbled by all their continuing love and support.

My aim was just to get back to ‘normal’, I never had any grand plans! I do have a few annoying side effects from the ongoing hormone treatment and mild lymphoedema, but proud that I’m able to do everything I did before.

Why Breast Cancer Research Is So Important

I became aware of Prevent Breast Cancer when I took part in their BooBee campaigns in 2019 and again in 2022. They were amazing and empowering experiences – who would have thought that I would ever be part of a sponsored lingerie catwalk that raised, not only funds for the charity, but awareness of the importance of checking for changes and seeking early advice!

Research is so important, and it is thanks to years of research that there was an effective treatment plan available when I was faced with my diagnosis. PBC are the only charity that actively work towards preventing breast cancer. As mother to a daughter who is now in her early 20s – that means everything!

Manchester Dragoneers

In early 2023, a colleague of my husband’s was on a trip to Liverpool and noticed some ladies in pink on a dragon boat in the docks. She made some enquiries and was told it was a breast cancer team and there was a similar group in Manchester. I found the Manchester Dragoneers’ website, made contact and was invited down to their base at Debdale Outdoor Centre in Manchester the following Saturday. I was very nervous, but I couldn’t have hoped to meet a friendlier bunch!

The team was formed under the Paddlers for Life banner. We’re not a racing team; the regular exercise centres on enhancing the lymphatic system and also ensures mental wellbeing and supportiveness. In just a matter of weeks, my lymphoedema-affected arm had improved significantly!

Some in our group are only a few months post treatment and come with us in the boat, just paddling as and when they feel able, working towards their ‘new normal’. Some people have been coming for over 10 years. Others come just for the cake and chat afterwards!

The support and camaraderie I’ve received since being welcomed into the group have blown my mind. I knew from the first week that I’d tapped into a special group of love and laughter. It’s good to know that I can talk to group members about anything to do with breast cancer, but the emphasis is definitely on having fun.

In fact, a whole world of opportunities has opened up and now I’m never at home! There are walking groups, cinema groups and numerous social events for those interested. The team is also planning to take part in some international regattas with other breast cancer teams in the next couple of years and we’re busy preparing for those.

Who would have thought that having breast cancer could end up being such a positive thing in my life!

Thank you to Sue for sharing her experience with us today.

Take a look at the Dragoneers’ website for more information.

Published On: March 6th, 2024 /

Would you like to share your story?

We’re always looking to speak to people who are interested in sharing their story and experience of breast cancer. It not only helps us spread awareness but can be helpful for others who are dealing with the disease. If this is a cause close to your heart and you would be comfortable sharing your journey with other supporters, and potentially the media, then please get in touch today by emailing

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About Prevent Breast Cancer

Prevent Breast Cancer is the only UK charity entirely dedicated to the prediction and prevention of breast cancer – we’re committed to freeing the world from the disease altogether. Unlike many cancer charities, we’re focused on preventing, rather than curing. Promoting early diagnosis, screening and lifestyle changes, we believe we can stop the problem before it starts. And being situated at the only breast cancer prevention centre in the UK, we’re right at the front-line in the fight against the disease. Join us today and help us create a future free from breast cancer. If you have any questions or concerns, email us today.