A nurse is urging women to be watchful for signs of inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), after beginning an 18-month course of chemotherapy treatment for the condition herself.
Annemarie Wilson, a mother of two, works as a nurse at Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust and is currently studying to become a health visitor.
“I urge other women to not put off going to their doctor if they spot any changes”
She said she had decided to speak out about her condition to help try and prevent other women from going through the same experience.
She began feeling the symptoms of IBC, such as an inverted nipple, redness, swelling, and itchy skin, but due to her busy life as a working mother, put off visiting her doctor until she began to feel pain.
Upon visiting her GP on 7 February 2018, she was diagnosed with IBC and told she must undergo 18 months of chemotherapy.
She said: “This type of cancer is very aggressive, and my scans revealed that it had already spread to my lymph nodes.
“I started chemotherapy a week later. I’ve lost my hair, my eyebrows and gained over a stone in weight and had some awful side effects, which are only temporary,” she added.
“I’ll also need breast surgery and radiotherapy and hormone treatment for the next 10 years,” she said, noting that she was 33 when she was diagnosed and had been married for just seven months.
“I wanted to make other women aware of this sort of breast cancer”
Despite the strain of treatment, Ms Wilson is continuing to study to become a health visitor, even working on assignments while undergoing chemotherapy.
Ms Wilson’s experience prompted her to caution other women of the danger of ignoring what their body was saying.
She said: “I wanted to make other women aware of this sort of breast cancer. The majority of IBC doesn’t present with a lump, because it typically grows in sheets or nests.”
“I have been very positive about my treatment, the outcome and my prognosis,” she said. “It is scary stuff, but I’ve had the amazing support from my husband, family, friends and colleagues.
“I urge other women to not put off going to their doctor if they spot any changes in their breasts,” she stated.
To help raise awareness, Ms Wilson has created a page on the social media site Instagram to act as a support base for other young women with breast cancer.
Meanwhile, her nursing colleagues at Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber have also organised a Pie and Pea night on 1 December to raise funds for Ms Wilson’s family.
Joanne O’Marr, lead for the Macmillan Living Well Cancer Information Service, also urged women not to ignore symptoms.
She said: “If you notice any changes in your body, please make an appointment with your GP as soon as you can and get them checked out,” she said.
Ms Wilson has said she will continue to undergo treatment while raising awareness for IBC.