A WOMAN who battled breast cancer for six years is urging women everywhere to check themselves for signs of the disease.

Judith Bryce was just one week into her new jobs at the Welsh Ambulance Trust’s head of operation support in 2012 when she discovered a lump in her breast.

The 51-year-old, who lives in Blackwood, said: “I was devastated and I just knew that it was going to be bad news.

“That was the start of a long journey towards recovery that spanned six long and difficult years.”


Following her diagnosis, Ms Bryce underwent a lumpectomy to remove the cancer and determine if it had spread.

She said: “I thought all would be well, but my consultant told me in a follow-up appointment that the margins for the cancer were wider that initially thought and I would need a mastectomy and chemotherapy.

“That was a very low point, but I duly went in for the mastectomy followed by reconstructive surgery.

“Unfortunately, my recovery was hampered and I became very poorly. My husband, a paramedic, came home one day gravely concerned that I was deteriorating.

“I had to have more surgery to reverse the reconstructive surgery.”

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime - but more than 50 per cent say they don't know the early signs of the disease.

While rare, about 390 men in the UK are also diagnosed with breast cancer each year.

Ms Bryce underwent six months of chemotherapy, losing her hair, which she eventually shaved off - she said she was 'too ill' to care what she looked like.

“After three months of chemotherapy I came back to work while I underwent the final three months of treatment," added Ms Bryce.

“My oncologist thought I was mad, but at the time it felt like I was taking a bit of control back.”

Two years later, Ms Bryce underwent further reconstructive surgery.

Now cancer free, the mum-of-four is encouraging others to check for signs and symptoms of the disease.

Ms Bryce said: “I’m a few years on now, and while my energy levels have never really recovered, I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to check your breasts.

“I might not be standing here today without having done so myself."

Signs and symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • Visible changes in shape or size.
  • Skin changes such as; dimpling, puckering or rash around the nipple.
  • Lumps or bumps.
  • Bloody discharge from the nipple.

South Wales Argus:

TV presenter Lorraine Kelly’s Change and Check campaign is running as part of Breast Cancer Awareness month

Early diagnosis can mean a better chance of successful treatment.

Dr Hilary Jones has shared this step-by-step guide to checking your breasts:

  • Sit comfortably in front of a mirror with hands on your hips so chest muscles are relaxed.
  • Firstly, look at the contour of the breast to check that it matches on each side and see if there is any puckering or dimpling.
  • Look for any change in the nipple such as a rash, indrawing or pulling in.
  • Look for any skin change all around the nipple.
  • Using the fingers of your left hand to examine the right breast, walk your middle three fingers around the breast. You're feeling for any abnormal lumps or bumps or any irregularity that hasn't been there before.
  • Divide the breast into four quarters.
  • Start on the inner upper quarter, walking those fingers around the breast.
  • Do the same on the lower inner quarter and then across to the lower right quarter and then the upper right quarter.
  • Walk fingers up to the tail of the breast in the armpit.
  • Walk your fingers back to the areola around the nipple.
  • Repeat steps above on the left breast, using your right hand to do so.