“Get checking” – that is the message from Tracy Freeman, clinical lead for equipment and wheelchair service at ESNEFT, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Tracy found a lump in her left breast “purely by accident” as she arrived at a hotel in Prague for a family weekend away last December. She was carrying her rucksack which had fallen off her shoulder, and as she did so, her hand brushed her left breast and she knew straight away there was something there.
She was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer in January at the age of 40.
Tracy, who is based at Colchester’s Essex County Hospital, said: “It was like someone had put their hands over my ears. I saw the consultant’s mouth moving, but I couldn’t hear anything. It was terrifying.
“You never think you are going to be told you have cancer, and to suddenly become the patient was very weird and not a role I liked.”
Fortunately it was caught early and it was treatable, so Tracy’s consultant then started to plan and go through her choices.
She said: “Her priority was to get the cancer out and her priority was how I felt and how I looked – I remember that very clearly. My whole silhouette has changed now, that takes some getting used to.”
Tracy admits she would check for lumps, but not as regularly as she should. This October she is encouraging all women to check their breasts and hopes by sharing her story it will help raise more awareness.
She said: “Even it helps one woman it’s worth it. I didn’t know how to check and if I had known I would’ve checked higher, and I’d have found it.
“I would urge anyone reading this to get checking, and for them to tell others in their life to check too, and if you do find something just get to the doctor, don’t avoid it.”
Tracy had surgery on February 8. She worked every day until the day before her operation and although she is still dealing with the physical and emotional effects of her journey, she re-joined her “incredible” and “supportive” team full time in July.
She said: “I know I was lucky in an unlucky situation. I’m very grateful to the Breast Clinic, I can’t thank them enough, and the Radiotherapy team, I was there every day for four weeks.
“I’ve worked for the hospital since 2002, I’m proud to work here and proud to be that patient. The care given to me was the care I give to others and that was great to see.”Back to top