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Emily's Journey: Overcoming Inflammatory Breast Cancer with Courage and Support from Weston Park Cancer Charity

“It was an extremely tough time, but the staff at Weston Park were incredible.” - Emily’s story.

“I knew a lump was a sign of breast cancer, but I didn’t have a lump at first. My right breast almost doubled in size overnight and I knew something wasn’t right.” When Mum of twin boys, Emily Fox, woke up one morning in January 2023, her right breast had dramatically changed in size.

Emily, who lives in Greystones in Sheffield and works as a physiotherapist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, was 44 years old when she was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer.

Upon visiting her GP, Emily was referred to the breast clinic at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital who performed various scans and took biopsies. She was also given antibiotics as it was first assumed that she had mastitis.

She said: “Cancer hadn’t even crossed my mind. I knew that lumps and changes in skin and colour could all be signs but did not realise a change of breast size could also be.

“Things obviously didn’t get any better after I had the antibiotics, but I still did not think of cancer. The night before my results appointment, I ‘googled’ my symptoms, and I just knew that I wasn’t going to get good news. My heart sank and I just couldn’t think about anything else.

“The next day it was confirmed that I had Inflammatory Breast Cancer.”

Things moved quickly for Emily after she received her diagnosis. Inflammatory Breast Cancer is more common in younger women and can rapidly spread which means it can become serious more quickly.

In Emily's case, her cancer had already spread to the lymph nodes in her armpit, behind her collar bone and into her mammary chain despite having investigations just two weeks after her symptoms started.

Emily added: “I started chemotherapy in early March. It was an extremely tough time, but the staff at Weston Park were incredible. They made me feel safe, they made me feel truly cared for and I knew I was in the best possible place.

“Although it’s a sad and stressful place to be, the chemotherapy unit was strangely uplifting. And that is all down to the nurses and support staff. They are truly brilliant, and I can’t thank them enough for their care.”

In August, Emily made the huge decision to have a double mastectomy as her worry over the breast cancer returning in the future was too great.

She said: “During my treatment, I had to go back into hospital for several emergency investigations for my left breast. For my peace of mind, I just had to make a decision that would help minimise having to keep going through that.”

Emily has now completed a course of radiotherapy at Weston Park and continues to use the Centre for support. She has attended Weston Park Cancer Charity’s art therapy sessions and has praised them as “one of the best things I could have done.”

Emily said: “I can’t praise the charity enough. The art therapy sessions were a lifeline for me. To be able to talk to other people going through similar circumstances, to share our ups and downs, and be there for each other, has helped me so much. We still meet up even though the course has finished.

“When you first find out that you have cancer it feels like your world has ended and that you will never feel happiness again, but this does change over time.

“I still have sad times, but I am now able to experience joy again too and this is thanks to friends, family, Weston Park Hospital, the charity and other local charities. Feeling such love and care at a time of heartbreak is overwhelming but it is also what has helped get me through.”

For more information on our cancer support services, call 0114 553 3330 or email charityteam@wpcancercharity.org.uk.

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