A Ninewells nurse is urging both women and men to get themselves checked after she herself was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Debbie Goodsir, 34, discovered a lump on her breast two years ago and has since undergone surgery, six rounds of chemotherapy and 23 sessions of radiotherapy.
She told her story to the Tele as part of October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaign, ahead of her taking part in a charity fashion show to raise funds for vital research.
The Carnoustie mum-of-two said even after noticing the lump she still did not believe that she could be seriously ill.
However, she was eventually persuaded by her husband to get it checked out and, after an appointment with her GP, was referred for an ultrasound and biopsy.
She said: “It just appeared overnight. I just woke up one day and there was a lump. I was really conscious of it, it was quite sore.
“They do say a lot of the time that breast cancer isn’t painful so that was encouraging me to think it must be something different. I was working the day of my results.
“I just went down and sat with my uniform on expecting her to say everything was fine, off you go back to work. It was a million times worse than that. I didn’t have anybody with me I was so confident it was going to be okay. They told me what it was, they were quite shocked.”
Debbie said the diagnosis itself did not cause her to become emotional, but said she was overcome with grief when doctors asked her if there was a close friend that would help her through the diagnosis and her first thought was Nichola Baird, who was tragically killed in a car crash six months prior.
“She would have dropped everything to come and see me. I don’t think I was upset about the cancer, it was more the fact that I lost my friend,” she added.
She then had a mammogram that day and surgery was scheduled a few weeks later to remove the lump and the surrounding tissue.
Debbie, mum to seven-year-old Izzy and Samuel, five, said not all the tissue was able to be removed so she was given chemo and radiotherapy.
The treatment left her exhausted and ruined her taste buds and, despite not telling her children she had cancer, it was obvious to them she was ill.
But two years on she has finished her intensive treatment and her cancer is now at bay, though she has to take Tamoxifen for the next 10 years and is given a yearly mammogram.
Now she is focusing on making the most of her life, and also doing her bit to help others who find themselves in a similar situation as she did in 2017.
In May, she completed a 10k run in Edinburgh to raise money for charity.
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And Debbie will also be appearing at the Breast Cancer Care Scotland’s fashion show in Glasgow later this month, along with 23 other people.
Organisers hope to raise £160,000 from the event, allowing the charity to continue to provide care for those affected by the disease as well as carry on vital research.
And she also hopes that by sharing her story, others will be encouraged to check themselves for lumps and other symptoms on a regular basis.
She said: “I was 32, never in a million years did I think cancer was going to knock at my door. I’m just glad that I went through it rather than watching my husband or children go through anything. It’s important that we don’t ignore these things.
“It was quite easy to feel my lump, its just knowing what your normal is and taking it from there.
“It’s not highlighted enough that men get breast cancer as well. If there is something not right I would say don’t be embarrassed, go and get it seen to.”