Hayley is raising awareness of breast cancer after beating the disease herself.
A young mother is urging women of all ages to be more aware of the importance of checking themselves for possible early signs of breast cancer.
Hayley Storey, 34, of Elston, was diagnosed with the disease at the end of November last year.
Her treatment started in December and she is now clear of the disease— but it could have been a very different story.
Hayley was 33 when she found a lump in her left breast while she was having a shower.
“It felt about the size of a blueberry,” she said.
Hayley’s mum, a nurse, said she should have it checked, and although she was told it was probably nothing, she was sent to Nottingham City Hospital’s breast institute for tests.
“Then I got a call asking me to go in to discuss my results, so I knew, I just knew,” Hayley said.
“I was told there was one little area of cancer but that it was highly-treatable, highly-curable.”
“Being diagnosed early made a massive difference.”
She was told chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy would all be used to treat the cancer, as she was young enough to withstand all three and it would give her the best chance of a cure.
Because of her relatively young age, she was asked if she would be willing to be part of a clinical trial, which involved changing the order in which treatments were delivered.
She agreed, and treatment started at the end of December.
In the meantime a second area of cancer had been found it Hayley’s left breast.
“It was not related to the first area — it was just bad luck,” Hayley said.
The clinical trial proved a success and Hayley needed only four rounds of chemotherapy, rather than the eight she had first been told she would need.
“It saved me three or four months of treatment,” she said
By using a cold cap Hayley did not lose her hair, although it became thinner.
Neither did she feel very sick throughout her treatment, which meant she was able to continue with family life more normally.
Hayley and husband Matt married in September of last year. The couple have two boys, Sam, 7, and Jake, 4.
They had just finished renovating their home, and were looking forward to enjoying their first Christmas there together when Hayley was told she had cancer.
“So we married in September, moved house in October, and I was diagnosed in November,” Hayley said. “It was quite a time.”
She said the boys knew only that mummy had a ‘poorly boob’ and was having special medicine to make it better.
“If you lose you hair you look poorly, but I looked quite well most of the time,” she said.
She said she had had huge support from her parents, who live next door, from friends, and from the Elston community.
“I didn’t document my story on social media or anything, because that’s not me,” she said. “I didn’t want to make it a ‘thing’ or be defined by my cancer.”
“But I don’t know how people cope without support nearby.
“I love being at home with my family, and parents next door.”
Hayley had a mastectomy in April, and reconstructive surgery using tissue from her stomach to create a new breast that looked and felt as natural as possible.
It was a seven-hour operation, but went well and Hayley was given the cancer all-clear in May.
But she knows that by checking herself and finding the cancer early she hugely improved her chance of recovery.
Mammograms are routinely offered on the NHS every three years to women aged 50 to 70.
“I think 50 is too old. I was only 33,” Hayley said.
To help women realise the importance of checking themselves for signs of breast cancer, Hayley has organised an informal fund-raising and awareness event a week on Saturday, from 2pm to 4pm, in Elston Village Hall.
There will be a small entry free, and a raffle of donated prizes from local businesses, tea, cakes, plus a self-awareness talk by Hayley’s mum, Sandra Wright, and a video showing women how to check themselves.
“It can happen to anyone,” Hayley said. “If I had found my lump later it could have been a very different story.”
All money raised will be split between three charities that Hayley found helpful— Breast Cancer Care, Cancer Research UK, and Maggie’s at Nottingham City Hospital.
More by this authorJulia Jones