How a previous experience helped unite Dennis and Sarah


Dennis has experienced breast cancer in his family three times – once with his first wife, then his partner, and then his daughter, Sarah. When Sarah was diagnosed with breast cancer, Dennis’s experience helped him support her through her treatment. Their story shows the power of a united family.

Dennis – We thought we’d caught it early

Sarah’s mother, Jenny, was 45 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She came home and told me. I said to go to the GP as soon as possible. The doctor told us that it was breast cancer and that she would need to have a mastectomy.

I don’t remember how we told our three daughters, it’s all a blur. Everything happened very quickly as she went to a private hospital to have her mastectomy, within two days of being diagnosed.

We thought we’d caught it early and done everything we could, and she was being monitored every six months. Five years later, Jenny died from secondary breast cancer when Sarah was 28.

I went into protection mode

It was a huge shock when Sarah told me she had found a lump. I went into protection mode, doing everything I could to take her to appointments and organise her scans. I had gone through it all before and knew that time was precious.

The doctor confirmed our fears that it was breast cancer.

My advice for other parents if their child is going through breast cancer is to get as much information as possible. There are some fantastic sources, like Breast Cancer Care, that give you lots of helpful information to prepare you for what’s to come.

I didn’t speak to anyone else for support, but I guess I’m lucky in a way that my previous experience helped me support my daughter…

Sarah – I knew something wasn’t right

I found a lump on my right breast when I was 40. I knew something wasn’t right.

My GP informed me that she would refer me for tests. I came out of the appointment in shock and immediately called my dad. He booked an appointment at a medical unit in Cardiff and two days later I went to the unit with him.

After a mammogram and a biopsy, I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. It felt like a blur. I remember shouting at my dad in the car park – it was just too much to take in.

My dad helped sort everything out. He had been through it with my mum, and later with his new partner too, who was also diagnosed. He researched things for me when I couldn’t face it.

When you’re going through treatment you don’t take all the information in, so it was great to have him there. Someone was always there to support me

I couldn’t tell my two sisters at first, who are both younger than me. When I first found my lump, they were both expecting my two beautiful nieces. I didn’t tell them until I was sure that it was breast cancer. I was busy trying to come to terms with it myself.

Once I did, they were amazing. We all live within a few minutes of each other and are very supportive of one another. I live alone, but during my treatment someone was always there to support me. My family really united around me, and I feel very lucky that they were there for me at such a low point in my life.

Help support this fantastic charity with our Breast Cancer Care range

1 Comment

  1. Christine Collins November 13, 2018 at 7:54 pm -  Reply

    My word, another amazing story of working through adversity. The more we hear these stories the more prepared we can be for the possible attack of Cancer. My mother had it in 1965 we just said goodbye to her in 1982. Unfortunately I lost my sister on Sunday after two years of true suffering through various treatments but no surgery. Unfortunately too far gone by the time she admitted what was happening. So the message as always is – go see your GP as soon as you suspect things are not right. Thank you for your story, Dennis.
    Christine xx

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