Monday, 27 June 2016

I Developed Breast Cancer Because I'd Never Had Any Children

Susan Lemming, 50, a hairdresser from Norwich, who developed breast cancer
Susan Leeming was stunned to discover that her cancer cells developed because she had never been a mum, meaning her oestrogen levels were abnormally high

When Susan Leeming found she had stage three breast cancer at 42, she was relieved she had no children to distress with the devastating news.
But this small crumb of comfort turned out to be a leading cause of her illness.
Because Susan’s biopsy showed the cancer cells developed because she’d never been a mum.

She was told women who have babies have lower oestrogen levels while hers were abnormally high enough to trigger the disease.
Susan says: “I couldn’t believe it. To find my decision not to be a parent could have caused my cancer was unthinkable.”
Susan was told by her GP at age of 20 that her chances of being a mum were slim after years with no periods.
She married in 2000 then lost her mum a year later to breast cancer.
“The grief hit me hard and I found myself yearning for ­children,” she says.
Her husband, who already had two of his own, suggested they try for a child of their own.
“It was tempting,” says Susan. “But it didn’t feel it was the right time and I decided not to.”
Seven years later, she found a lump in her right breast and was diagnosed with grade 3 breast cancer.
She had a successful mastectomy and needed chemotherapy.
Susan Lemming, 50, a hairdresser from Norwich, who developed breast cancer
Susan survived breast cancer and now runs her own salon
Then her oncologist dropped the bombshell that she was oestrogen receptor positive, meaning the cancer was related to her hormone levels.
Her decision not to have children meant her ovaries had never taken a “rest” from producing oestrogen, sending her levels rocketing to more than five times the average level of 35.
“I crumbled,” says Susan, of Norwich. “I’ve never heard avoiding motherhood could cause cancer.
"I was horrified it was somehow my fault for not having kids or at least trying harder to conceive.
"But I would never have brought children into the world just to protect me from illness.”
In March 2009, relief came as she was told she was in remission.
She told the Sunday People: “I am grateful for every day I spend cancer-free – but I still can’t believe it was the price I had to pay for not ­having children.”
After surviving the treatment, Susan was prescribed three-monthly injections to control her oestrogen levels, which reduced them from 195 down to 18 by May 2011.
She and her husband sadly split in 2013, but Susan, 50, now runs her own hairdressing salon selling chemical-free products – and is happier than ever.
“Having come through the other side of everything I feel strong and proud,” she says.
“Despite everything, I don’t regret my decision.
"At the end of the day, overcoming cancer made me the positive person I am today.
"I’m just lucky that my choice not to have kids didn’t end up ending me.”

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