AN inspirational mum suffering from breast cancer is hoping to raise more than £2,000 for charity, less than a month before she is due to have a mastectomy.
Julie James was just 45 when she noticed changes to one of her breasts in autumn last year and immediately made an appointment with her GP.
After an examination her doctor felt a lump and he gave her an urgent referral to Newport's Royal Gwent Hospital where she had a biopsy.
Test results returned showing that the lump was cancerous and “quite aggressive”, already at stage three, Mrs James said.
She was diagnosed with HER2 Positive cancer, a type which tends to grow more quickly, so she is having intravenous treatment with Herceptin to block the protein receptors which can stimulate the cancer cells.
But Mrs James, from Cefn Fforest, is refusing to let the diagnosis limit her and is now preparing to undergo life changing surgery she hopes will put the illness to rest.
Despite side effects such as hair loss and fatigue from chemotherapy, she has carried on her 20-year career as a capital buyer for the NHS, currently working in Mamilhad, Pontypool.
She said support from loved ones had helped her fight the illness, praising husband Stephen “Buggy” James and a strong support network of family and friends.
They are helping out with lifts to hospital appointments and regular phone calls, with Mr James even stepping in to shave his wife’s head after her hair and eyelashes started to fall out after chemotherapy.
Mrs James said: “I had really long hair but when it started going I got it cut really short – it quite suited me. When that started coming out as well I got my husband to shave it. He was more upset than me I think.
“He doesn’t care about the loss of hair or anything, as long as I’m alright. He doesn’t say a lot, but he’s there for me.”
She said learning of the illness had been hard for her two sons, aged 12 and 26, but seeing her carry on working had reassured them .
Her mastectomy will be on March 18, the day after her 46th birthday, and she is hoping for a Welsh win in the Six Nations match against Scotland that weekend to help her through the surgery.
The diagnosis has shown her how much people care, she said.
“People I haven’t heard from in years have been in touch so that’s a plus side. My advice to others is to be positive. You might have your down days but throw your negativity out the window. You want everyone around you to be positive as well – I think that’s why I think I have done so well.”
She praised the “friendly and relaxing” clinic at the Royal Gwent, saying “the care has been marvellous, which really makes a difference.”
Mrs James said she was partly inspired to raise the money after “a close colleague and friend of mine had breast cancer for five or six years and sadly died just before Christmas. She was really positive all the way though.”
The charity night put on by Mrs James and her friend Mandy Davey will start at 7pm tonight at the Top Club in Cefn Fforest.
There will be a charity auction including signed football shirts from Cardiff City, a raffle, an “sexy take on Elvis” from a local impersonator, DJing from Stephen “Buggy” James and one friend shaving his head at the event in support of the charity.