A university student was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer at the age of 22 after a vacation in Ibiza, despite doctors telling her that nothing was wrong.
Kindergarten nurse Ellie Graham from Liverpool discovered a pea the size of a pea after experiencing shooting pain in her right side last summer.
Although initially told that it was probably just a cyst and nothing to worry about, she was referred to a breast clinic for further testing.
Mrs. Graham had an ultrasound and biopsy to be safe before she went on a vacation to Ibiza with friend Joey and friends.
But when she returned in September, she got the devastating news that she had stage three breast cancer and that it was spreading across her body.
After surgery and 15 debilitating rounds of radiotherapy, she is now cancer free. But the pediatric nurse begs young women to check for nodules and “even if the doctors tell you it’s just a cyst, you need to press biopsy.”
Ellie Graham, 22, discovered a pea the size of a pea after experiencing shooting pain in her right side last summer
Although initially told that the lump was most likely just a cyst and nothing to worry about, she was referred to a breast clinic for further testing
Mrs. Graham, from Liverpool, had an ultrasound and biopsy to be safe before she went on a vacation to Ibiza with friend Joey and friends
Ms. Graham spoke publicly about her ordeal for the first time and said, “I hadn’t even thought about checking it, because I’m only 22, but a manager I work with and who’s in her fifties, went for a routine appointment with mammograms.
“When she got the results back, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, so that made me a little more aware.
“I had a pain in my chest for a couple of weeks, but I thought it was only hormonal changes.
“And then four days later I found a lump. It was only small, the pea was large. “
Mrs. Graham was referred for further testing just to be sure, but was reassured that it was probably only a cyst.
She added, “They were convinced it was just a cyst, but they did a biopsy in case.
‘I went on vacation to Ibiza with my boyfriend and when I returned we went in to get my results and they diagnosed me with breast cancer. I was completely in shock. It was horrible. “
The pediatric nurse was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer on September 27, 2019, the fastest growing stage, and was told by doctors that she needed surgery as soon as possible.
She became the youngest person with the disease at the Linda McCartney center at Royal Liverpool Hospital.
But when she returned in September, she got the devastating news that she had stage three breast cancer that had spread throughout her body
She had a low risk of the cancer coming back after surgery, so doctors put her on radiotherapy.
Ms. Graham hopes that her story will help raise awareness of breast cancer and the signs that women of all ages should look out for.
About 55,000 women are diagnosed with the disease every year and 11,000 of them die. Most diagnosed women are older than 50 years.
She said: ‘It’s weird that you don’t get routine mammograms [breast cancer screenings] until you are 50, when I am only 22 and the diagnosis has been made.
‘I know other young girls who are only in their thirties and go to the support group where I am going and they also have breast cancer.
“If you’re worried about something, even if the doctors tell you it’s just a cyst, you need a biopsy.”
She added: “If they had not done a biopsy of mine, I would have simply accepted that it was a cyst and would not have thought about it.
Mrs. Graham became the youngest who was diagnosed with the disease at the Linda McCartney Center at Royal Liverpool Hospital (in the photo after she was released)
“But the doctors told me that I was lucky to have found it at that stage, because if it had spread to my lymph nodes, it could have spread over my body.”
She said: ‘It still doesn’t feel real. I can’t believe how long it was since I was diagnosed the first time, I was just in a bubble.
“I feel it will be a long time before I am normal and feel normal again.”
Mrs. Graham completed her last radiotherapy session at Clatterbridge Cancer Hospital on Friday, February 21.
She called the clinic on Friday to mark the end of her treatment, surrounded by friends and family.
She said: ‘When I rang the bell, the relief was great. More than twenty of my friends and family were there to see me call.
“You read a poem before you did it and I couldn’t even pronounce my words.”
Since the video was posted online, it has been viewed more than a million times and has received messages from celebrities.
WHAT IS BREAST CANCER, HOW MANY PEOPLE FIND IT AND WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world. Every year there are more than 55,000 new cases in the UK and the disease claims the lives of 11,500 women. In the US, it hits 266,000 each year and kills 40,000. But what causes it and how can it be treated?
What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer originates from a cancer cell that develops in the mucosa of a duct or lobule in one of the breasts.
When the breast cancer has spread into the surrounding breast tissue, this is called an “invasive” breast cancer. Some people are diagnosed with ‘carcinoma in situ’, where no cancer cells have grown beyond the canal or the lobes.
Most cases develop in women older than 50 years, but younger women are sometimes affected. Breast cancer can develop in men, although this is rare.
Staging means how large the cancer is and whether it has spread. Stage 1 is the earliest stage and stage 4 means that the cancer has spread to another part of the body.
The cancer cells are sorted from low, which means slow growth, to high, which grows fast. High-quality cancers return more often after they have been treated for the first time.
What causes breast cancer?
A cancerous tumor starts with one abnormal cell. The exact reason why a cell becomes cancer is unclear. It is thought that something damages or changes certain genes in the cell. This makes the cell abnormal and multiplies ‘out of control’.
Although breast cancer can develop for no apparent reason, there are some risk factors that can increase the risk of breast cancer, such as genetics.
What are the symptoms of breast cancer?
The usual first symptom is a painless lump in the breast, although most breast lumps are not cancerous and are fluid-filled cysts that are benign.
The first place that breast cancer usually spreads to is the lymph nodes in the armpit. If this happens, you will get a swelling or lump in the armpit.
How is breast cancer diagnosed?
- First assessment: a doctor examines the breasts and armpits. They can perform tests such as a mammography, a special x-ray of the breast tissue that may indicate the possibility of tumors.
- Biopsy: A biopsy is when a small piece of tissue is removed from a part of the body. The sample is then examined under the microscope to search for abnormal cells. The sample can confirm or exclude cancer.
If it is confirmed that you have breast cancer, further tests may be needed to assess whether it has spread. For example, blood tests, an ultrasound scan of the liver or an X-ray of the breast.
How is breast cancer treated?
Treatment options that can be considered are surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone treatment. A combination of two or more of these treatments is often used.
- Surgery: breast-conserving surgery or removal of the affected breast, depending on the size of the tumor.
- Radiotherapy: a treatment that uses high-energy radiation beams, aimed at cancerous tissue. This kills cancer cells or prevents cancer cells from multiplying. It is mainly used in addition to surgery.
- Chemotherapy: a treatment for cancer by using anti-cancer drugs that kill cancer cells or prevent them from multiplying
- Hormone treatments: some types of breast cancer are influenced by the ‘female’ hormone estrogen, which can stimulate cancer cells to divide and multiply. Treatments that lower the level of these hormones or prevent them from working are often used in people with breast cancer.
How successful is a treatment?
The outlook is best for those who are diagnosed when the cancer is still small and has not spread. Surgical removal of a tumor at an early stage can then give a good chance of a cure.
The routine mammography that is offered to women between 50 and 70 years of age means that more breast cancers are diagnosed and treated at an early stage.
For more information visit breastcancercare.org.uk or www.cancerhelp.org.uk