‘My gorgeous little boy helped me get through my ordeal’

Rebecca Norum from Paulsgrove who has been treated for breast cancer after an early diagnosis, with her son Isaac Dowden (11 months) .  Picture:Steve Reid 113495-864
Rebecca Norum from Paulsgrove who has been treated for breast cancer after an early diagnosis, with her son Isaac Dowden (11 months) . Picture:Steve Reid 113495-864
Winners and highly-commended staff at Queen Alexandra Hospital's Best People Awards 2017     Picture: Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust

QA Hospital A&E worker saved colleague’s life

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HE WON’T know it yet, but 11-month-old Isaac Dowden came very close to losing his mum.

Four months after he was born, mum Rebecca Norum, then aged 34, was delivered a devastating blow – she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

She discovered a 2cm lump in her left breast, which turned out to be the most aggressive form of cancer.

As it was detected early, the lump was removed, and Rebecca, now 35, is on the road to recovery.

But because of her close call, she is urging women to make sure they check their breasts regularly for any early signs of the disease.

‘After I discovered the lump I did not hesitate to go to the doctor,’ said Rebecca, who will celebrate Isaac’s first birthday on October 31.

‘He referred me to a specialist and I had a mammogram, which revealed I had breast cancer. Being told you have cancer at any time in your life is devastating, but I found it particularly cruel as my baby was just four months old at the time.

‘I felt sheer panic, fear and was in denial that this was really happening to me – and guilt.

‘I felt guilty for having my son and for him to have the possibility of growing up without his mummy.’

Rebecca, who had to give up her job working as a supervisor at a travel firm, opted for private treatment as she could not face waiting two weeks for an initial appointment with the NHS.

At the Spire Southampton Hospital Rebecca had a lumpectomy – a procedure that preserves the breast and removes the tumour only.

She then went through a gruelling six months of chemotherapy, where she lost her hair, and four weeks of radiotherapy.

Rebecca, of Nailsworth Road, Paulsgrove, backs Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which runs throughout October.

She said: ‘There isn’t a day that goes by without me thinking I may not get to see Isaac grow up, so I’m thankful for the time I have with him.

‘Nothing can prepare you for the physical and emotional rollercoaster you embark on – the complete hair loss and sickness from the chemotherapy was soul-destroying.

‘But the reason I’m sharing my story is to raise awareness of the disease and to make younger women aware that it can happen at any age.

‘We need to make ourselves aware of any changes to our bodies and to get these checked out as soon as possible. Please don’t let embarrassment put you off – it could save your life.

‘I have only really coped as there is no evidence the cancer has spread beyond the breast and the treatment I have will help keep it at bay.

‘Emotional support from family and friends has helped, and of course my gorgeous little boy’s smile.’