Nurse issues WARNING to women after lump in breast that was dismissed as ‘nothing’ turns out to be Stage 2 CANCER
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND: A cancer nurse has disclosed her story after being diagnosed with the disease. Sophie Jackson, an NHS worker, has said that initially, a lump in her right breast was described as “probably nothing” but later it turned out to be Stage 2 invasive ductal carcinoma – an aggressive type of breast cancer.
The 26-year-old told the Daily Mail UK, “I cried my eyes out and first asked if I was going to die and second if I was going to lose all my hair. Other than the lump I had no other symptoms whatsoever. It felt completely random and the diagnosis was such a shock. I felt let down. The doctors initially thought it was nothing purely based on age.”
“I feel frustrated on the guidance out there with the 'stereotypical' lumps to look for such as being hard or non-moveable as mine met all the criteria to be what they classed as 'nothing'. If I'd left it four weeks like the GP suggested, it may have spread in that time and I'd have been looking at an incurable diagnosis,” she asserted in her interview to the Daily Mail UK.
Jackson, who received her training at Bournemouth University and then joined University Hospitals Dorset as a senior staff nurse on the oncology unit, first found the lump in September 2021. She soon went to see a doctor, who reportedly advised her to “wait four weeks to see if the feeling disappeared”. But since she herself is a cancer care provider, she demanded a breast clinic referral.
Jackson then went on to see a specialist at Poole Hospital, where she was referred to get an ultrasound and four biopsies that eventually disclosed that it was cancer in November last year. She explained, “When I was diagnosed it was extremely overwhelming — usually you drip feed patient information as it is way too much to take on at once. I didn’t have that luxury and instead was instantly aware of facing surgery, chemo, losing my hair and becoming infertile at such a young age.” She spoke about her experience, mentioning her career as a nurse helped her cope. “I think my job did help in a way as I didn't have the expected anxieties about chemo. I knew what would happen, I knew the drugs, and I knew and trusted the people giving it to me which saved a lot of worrying,” she noted.
The nurse revealed that since then she has received a lumpectomy and multiple cycles of chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. She said, “It felt really strange receiving chemotherapy drugs I’d given to other patients before, like an out of body experience. I was also in disbelief seeing my name on the chemo bag and having my details checked when it was usually me on the other side. It caused distress as being unwell meant I couldn’t work for a while which made me anxious – especially seeing my colleagues continue working and looking after me.”
The New York Post citing Jam Press reported that Jackson not only lost her hair, her eyelashes and her eyebrows, she also underwent “fertility preservation and will spend the next 10 years enduring injections, tablets and IV infusions every six months as part of maintenance hormone therapy.”
While receiving treatment, Jackson had taken leave from her nursing duties. However, in July, she returned to work, which she described as a different feeling. She said, “I do feel differently about work, I have much more empathy towards patients now and feel like I have a unique understanding. I do also have struggles though as I am also a cancer patient and still will be for a long time.”
“The typical NHS with short staff, being overworked and not getting breaks leaves me run down and exhausted. It's sometimes hard to process looking after patients and supporting patients through cancer when it means running myself into the ground when in reality I probably need the support myself,” she stated.
Though Jackson does not have cancer for now, she has been warned that it may probably come back within the next two years. Raising awareness about the disease, she added, “I’d just love to spread awareness that cancer can affect you at a young age even with no family history, no genetics, no risk factors other than taking the contraceptive pill. Early detection has saved my life so it’s so important to check monthly and push to get things checked out. You are never wasting anyone’s time.”
Besides, Jackson has a personal blog called ‘The Cancer Nurse That Got Cancer’, where she posts about her cancer journey. In her name, a fundraiser has also been also started to “show support for Sophie and her incredible journey and help important research to eradicate cancers for ours and future generations.”
The message on the fundraiser reads, “CANCER PLAYS DIRTY, BUT SO DO WE! Cancer is happening right now, which is why I'm taking part in a Race for Life to raise money and save lives. 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Every single pound you donate makes a difference to Cancer Research UK’s groundbreaking work.”