Cancer 'stole first-time mum experience' from 28-year-old now calling on others to check themselves

Keisha Chadwick was diagnosed with breast cancer aged 28. Credit: MEN Media

A mum, who says cancer ‘stole’ her first-time mum experience, is calling on others to get themselves checked if they spot any signs.

Keisha Chadwick was nine months pregnant when she felt a lump on her breast while trying to encourage her breast milk supply.

The 31-year-old, from Manchester, thought nothing of the discovery and welcomed her baby girl, Miliana-Mae, in June 2021.

But shortly after giving birth, the new mum noticed her milk would dry up quickly and the lump near her left armpit had grown.

Keisha had her eggs frozen and underwent 18 weeks of chemotherapy, before having a mastectomy. Credit: MEN Media

Keisha, who was 28 at the time, decided to contact her GP who referred her to a breast clinic. The medic reassured her the lump was probably just a blocked milk duct.

But tragically, Keisha’s test results showed she had breast cancer, while caring for her baby daughter at just seven-weeks-old.

“The results came back and it was just devastating,” Keisha said. “I had breast cancer at 28.

“I said they had to be joking – I had a seven-week-old daughter. I thought I was going to die; it was just a nightmare scenario. It never occurred to me that I could get breast cancer while pregnant.”

Keisha had her eggs frozen and underwent 18 weeks of gruelling chemotherapy before having a mastectomy, an operation to remove a breast.

Keisha's baby daughter was just seven-weeks-old when she received her diagnosis. Credit: MEN Media

The following year, she had a preventative mastectomy on her right breast and further radiotherapy before being told she had no evidence of disease in March 2022.

"Breast cancer stole my first-time mum experience,” the mum added. “It stopped me qualifying as a nurse and it's given me extremely bad health anxiety.

“Every day is a worry, but I make the most of life, being a mum and continuing with my education to become a nurse. After my double mastectomy, I had an implant reconstruction - which is where an implant is used to create a breast shape - but I am forever changed physically and mentally.

“Although cancer has taken a lot from me, it’s also given me this drive to raise awareness among younger women. Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate, it can affect anyone. Checking your breasts could save your life.

“If I wasn’t pregnant, I probably wouldn’t have come across my breast cancer. Now I self-check all the time, even though I’ve had a double mastectomy. Milana is two and I don’t want to go anywhere. I don’t want to leave my daughter, so I’m determined to be as breast aware as possible.”

Keisha was told she had no evidence of the disease in March 2022. Credit: MEN Media

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, with around 55,000 women and 400 men diagnosed every year.

Despite it being rarer in young people, around 2,400 women in the UK are diagnosed aged 39 or under each year.

Breast Cancer Now’s senior nurse specialist, Louise Grimsdell, said: “We encourage women of all ages to regularly check their breasts. Checking your breasts takes a few minutes.

“It could be when you get dressed, when you’re showering or putting on moisturiser. Just remember to check your whole breast area, your armpits and up to your collarbone (upper chest) for changes. There's no special technique, it’s as simple as TLC: Touch, Look, Check.

“While many women know that a lump can be a possible symptom of breast cancer, there are other signs of the disease to look for.

“These include nipple discharge or dimpling or puckering of the skin of the breast. Most breast changes, including lumps, won’t be cancer, but it’s important to contact a GP as soon as possible if you notice a change to your breast that’s new or unusual for you. The sooner breast cancer is found, the more successful treatment is likely to be.

“For information or support, call Breast Cancer Now’s free, confidential Helpline on 0808 800 6000.”

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