A Hallglen mum has spoken out about beating breast cancer which she describes as ‘the biggest fight of her life’.
Sylvia Kay (39) went to the doctor in July last year after finding a lump when trying on bikinis for a forthcoming family holiday.
She said: “It was at the side of my breast and was a weird shape and squidgy. I had found a lump two years prior which turned out to be a cyst so thought this might be one too especially as it was painful so I wasn’t too worried at first.”
Sylvia made an appointment with her GP straight away who referred her for further tests and she then had a ten week wait for a hospital appointment.
When Sylvia was eventually seen by a specialist she was sent for an ultrasound and had biopsies done and then had to wait a further three weeks for the results.
She said: “I was starting to worry by this time as it was now October 17 and the lump had definitely got bigger and I had also found another three lumps under the original lump. I was right to be worried as the doctor told me the results showed I had breast cancer and it was triple negative.
“The doctor explained this was one of the worst types of breast cancer you could get as it was aggressive and there is only limited treatment for it.”
Sylvia, who is mum to Stephen (21), Shane (14) and Skye (9), was booked in for a mastectomy and told she would have to have six months of intenstive chemotherapy immediately after it. She also had to have further scans done on her liver, ovaries and brain to check if the cancer had spread which thankfully it had not.
“After my diagnosis I was shocked and went into autopilot. The only way to describe it is that it felt like my world was crashing down around me. Everything was about to change. I had to give up my work at the cleaning company I run but luckily I have great employees who kept it going for me.
“I knew I had a huge fight on my hands and I think the only reason I beat cancer is because of the support of my family, especially my son Shane who, through his boxing, instilled some sort of fight in me.
“He has only been boxing at Sparta Fitness and Boxing in Grangemouth for a short time but the coaches are amazing and have brought him on leaps and bounds and had his first big fight the same day of my second chemo session.
“The type of chemo I was getting was the sort that makes you lose your hair after the first session and makes you feel really sick. It can also affect your bones and muscles making them hurt so much it can feel like your bones are actually breaking. I was determined however I wasn’t going to miss Shane’s first fight as I really wanted to support him as he was supporting me.
“I told myself I’d bring a sick bucket if I had to but whatever it took I would be there at the ringside to cheer him on. He ended up winning the match and got a gold medal. I could not have been more proud and I decided then and there that if he could get in that ring I was going to fight breast cancer all the way until I won my battle too.
Since then Shane has made his mum even more proud by winning more boxing fights and has even competed in Romania.
Sylvia has now finished all her chemotherapy and is now in remission. She is awaiting a date to go in and get an elected mastectomy on her other breast as a preventative measure and will then undergo a double reconstruction and will get routine check-ups in the future.
She said: “I wanted to speak out as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month to stress to women the importance of checking their breasts. Also I wanted to share my story as I didn’t have any of the ‘classic’ symptoms. Many people think cancer is something that happens to older people but I was 38.
“There is also a belief that it is only hereditary but nobody in my family has ever had breast cancer and my mum is one of nine siblings. People think cancer lumps are usually painless but mine was sore.
“For all these reasons I would urge more people to check their breasts regularly and if they find even the tiniest lump go and get it checked as early diagnosis is crucial. I am now going to be left without my breasts but I have my life and the love of my family and that’s the most important thing.
“Breast cancer is truly awful but it is a fight you can win if you have loved ones to support you. I am living proof of that and can’t thank my kids and my husband Wayne enough for being there for me all the way.
Syliva also paid tribute to Macmillan Cancer Support nurses and Lady J’s salon in Grangemouth which offers wig advice and runs monthly pamper sessions for cancer patients.
Sylvia said: “The salon is run by Jill Lauder and I’m just one of the many people she has helped – she is amazing. She helped me so much, especially at the beginning of my diagnosis when I was losing my hair.
“She told me about wigs and it was good to go along to the salon if I was having a bad day and meet other people who understood what I was going through as you don’t get any mental health support to help you while you are going through your cancer or any after-care as such.
“The Macmillan nurses were also fantastic and would come to my house and send me texts to check up on me.
“My advice to anyone would be to accept all the support you can to help you while you are battling cancer. It honestly can make such a difference.”