Women from Portsmouth encourage others to check breasts for lumps

Emma Sunderland-Hansen, Kiera Baillie, fundraiser Debbie Webb and Rachel Hibbert. Picture: Keith Woodland
Emma Sunderland-Hansen, Kiera Baillie, fundraiser Debbie Webb and Rachel Hibbert. Picture: Keith Woodland
Paige Howitt

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GET yourself checked out — it could save your life.

That is the message from a group of young women who are today sharing their stories of cancer to make more people aware of the disease.

Checking my breasts saved my life

Kiera Baillie

Emma Sunderland-Hansen, Kiera Baillie and Rachel Hibbert, all aged 34, are encouraging women to check their breasts for lumps and see if they carry genes making them more susceptible to breast or ovarian cancer.

Both Kiera and Rachel have faced the disease while Emma recently discovered she had the BRCA1 gene, meaning she has a higher chance of developing cancer.

Kiera, who recently moved from Portsmouth to Havant, found a lump in her breast the first time she checked herself.

The mum-of-three said: ‘No-one in my family had breast cancer so I didn’t think to check myself for lumps.

‘The first time I did, I felt something that did not seem right and I was diagnosed with a rare form of intensive cancer.

‘I had a double mastectomy and I am now in remission, although because of the type of cancer I have it is highly likely to return.

‘Checking my breasts saved my life because at the point I found it, it was spreading so it was caught just in time.’

Rachel, from Copnor, is undergoing treatment after being diagnosed with breast cancer in March.

She came across a lump by accident and, after thinking it was abnormal, went to her GP.

She was told it was cancerous and has been having chemotherapy. Rachel had a history of breast cancer in her family but said she did not think it would happen to her.

‘I was only 34 when I was diagnosed and I just thought “it will never happen to me”,’ she said,

‘When I was diagnosed, I was offered the test to see if I carried the BRCA1 gene and I am awaiting results.

‘It is important I find out if I have it because it will give an indication for my sisters, my children and their children.

‘I would encourage women, of all ages, to check themselves and, if they have a history of breast or ovarian cancer, to see if they have the gene.’

Emma, from Tipner, was proactive in getting tested for the gene as several women on her dad’s side had ovarian cancer.

Now she has been tested positive, she is in the process of having a double mastectomy and a hysterectomy.

The mum-of-two said: ‘I want women to get themselves tested before it is too late.

‘Now I know I carry it, I can make steps to help prevent getting cancer.

‘It only takes a blood test to see if you have it and then you can go from there.’

On Sunday, all three women attended a fundraiser at Stamshaw and Tipner Community Centre which was raising money for Breast Cancer Care.

The event had cakes, a raffle and other activities.

Kiera said: ‘It was a really good event and it was nice to meet other women and share our experiences while raising money too.’