A local beautician and foster carer recently diagnosed with breast cancer has been sharing her treatment journey on social media in the hope of encouraging as many islanders as possible to self-check at least once a month.
Mum-of-two Melissa 'Missy' Warren (31) was diagnosed with Grade 2 Breast Cancer in November 2022.
On her social media platforms, she has shared her story of finding a large lump on her breast, scheduling a GP appointment, having an ultrasound, a mammogram, a biopsy, and then a mastectomy at the end of November.
But the cancer had spread to Missy's lymph nodes, which meant another surgery in January, and she is now due to begin a three-month course of chemotherapy to destroy any leftover cancerous cells.
Throughout her cancer journey, she has kept the mantra #positivevibesonly and is now urging others to self-check at least once a month in order to detect breast cancer early.
"I want to remind people that checking is something we can do ourselves," she explained. "Older and younger people should both do it, but younger women especially, because there's already a lot of awareness around getting mammograms later in life."
Missy said that she used to check much more often but noted that "it's so easy to forget."
"Our lives are busy with work and kids and relationships and friends and social life. If I had been checking consistently, I would have found the lump sooner and I wouldn't have needed chemo or a mastectomy. If you find it sooner, then your treatment is, I won't say easier, because it's never easy, but it's not as invasive."
When Missy says "self-check", she means more than just a "bit of a grab". She recently uploaded a tutorial to her Instagram which gives people step-by-step instructions and advice for how to look for marks and discolouration as well as lumps.
Pictured: Missy has pinned a tutorial to her Instagram highlights called 'Breast Check'.
The best place to self-check is first in the mirror and then in the shower, where the warmth and soap allows someone to feel for and detect lumps more easily. The best time to check is a week after your period, she explained: 'our breasts and our hormones change when we're on our period, but the following week is when your hormone levels are most balanced. Those who are post-menopause can check themselves at any time.'
The phrase she particularly wants to popularise is "learn your 'normal' so that you know when something is abnormal".
She also urges those checking not to be scared if they do find something.
"A lot of women put off going to see a doctor, but if you don't get it seen immediately, it can turn into something much worse. The team at Jersey Hospital's breast clinic are lovely."
Pictured: Missy's GoFundMe page.
Missy's friend recently set up a GoFundMe page to provide financial support as she begins chemotherapy later this month.
"I won't be able to work as much," Missy said. "As a foster carer who receives monthly foster care payments, I'm only entitled to a limited amount of income support, which isn't really enough. I'm self-employed as well, so social security and sick pay works differently for me, and it will be a struggle."
She continued: "I hope I will be able to work a little bit, but I have no idea how my body will react when I start chemo. This extra support will take the pressure off, so that I don't have to be stressing about my finances and can focus on beating cancer."
You can find Missy on Facebook and Instagram as Bespoke Beauty by Missy.
Pictured top: Missy has recently "embraced the buzz cut" in preparation for starting her chemotherapy later this month.
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