© Breast Cancer Now
Written by Samantha Lade, DonateToday
Both Giles and Julie have been affected by breast cancer. Now they share their stories and reasons why research brings so much hope to their lives
Both Giles and Julie have been affected by breast cancer. Here, they share their stories, and the reasons why research is key to bringing hope to their lives
Giles and Julie (pictured) represent just two of the 55,000+ diagnosed with breast cancer annually in the UK
Each year, around 11,500 people die from breast cancer in the UK alone. Here, Giles and Julie bravely share their own stories, and tell how the ongoing research by charity Breast Cancer Now is bringing hope and positivity to their lives.
It is widely understood that breast cancer is by and large a female disease – yet, many may still be shocked to learn that breast cancer affects men too.
In fact, 80 men a year will die from the disease.
But for three men to be diagnosed with breast cancer in one family is a rare occurrence indeed – yet, this was the situation Giles found himself in. His story goes back fourteen years.
‘My father died from breast cancer in 2004. Six months later, my uncle was diagnosed and died four years later when the cancer returned,’ says Giles.
‘And then 2 years ago, I developed it.’
Giles had found a lump, but due to his relative’s battles, he admits he was ‘far more aware than most men’ about the importance of self-examination.
350 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the UK
‘Self-checking is what saved me,’ he explains – and soon enough, Giles had a double mastectomy. ‘Only around 10% of breast cancers in women are directly linked to family history.
'So for two men in one family to get breast cancer, let alone three, is unheard of.’
Giles' concerns now centre around the genetic issue his family seem to have faced – and the likelihood of his children developing the disease in the future.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK.
- Breast Cancer Now
Much like each of the 55,000 individuals who are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year, Julie’s story differs significantly from Giles’.
Diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer in 2012 at just 41, Julie was straight in for six rounds of gruelling chemo, which left her debilitated and on the sofa.
But despite all the treatment, Julie’s condition worsened.
Julie is an active mother to her two children
‘I just had this feeling inside me that something wasn’t right and they discovered it has spread to my liver, my lungs, my bones, and then eventually they found it had spread to my brain as well,’ she explains.
For almost four years now, Julie has been living with secondary breast cancer, which is incurable.
But thanks to research into new treatments made possible by science, industry and charities like Breast Cancer Now, Julie has been able to live the past few years as an active woman – and importantly – an adventurous mum to her two children.
‘The research is amazing because I wouldn’t be able to access the drug that I did and have 50 cycles and have a good quality of life. Last year, I took my children on a road trip about Scotland and even climbed Ben Nevis.’
Julie says accessing her drug has helped her to grasp life each and every day.
But now, she is at the stage where she is no longer on medication. She explains: ‘I'm not on it anymore because my body can no longer tolerate the targeted chemo drug.'
'I just hope that science and research come along and help me. That’s what I wait for, and that’s what I believe in.’
Why Research is their Hope
Both Giles and Julie are more than willing to take part in Breast Cancer Now’s research and campaigning for their own personal reasons – namely their children.
For Giles, studies by the charity’s Male Breast Cancer Study of 2,000+ men means better understanding of prevention and treatment for future generations.
‘I welcome anything where I can be part of the research programme,' he says. 'I have a son and daughter, and I want a future where they don’t have to worry about breast cancer.'
"Research is the key to making sure anyone who gets breast cancer, whether male or female, survives."
Julie also advocates for Breast Cancer Now’s research to build hope for her family’s future – as well as her own.
‘Four people in my family have been affected by breast cancer, and myself. Although it hasn't yet been found, there must be a genetic reason for this.
‘There’s also a real problem with some people not being able to be given the drugs they need to help them live better and longer with secondary breast cancer. Breast Cancer Now’s campaigning work makes sure people like me get the treatments that research worked so hard to discover,’ she explains.
Protecting the future of Giles’ children, and making sure women like Julie get precious extra time to live, are just two of many reasons the charity's work is vital.
It's Breast Cancer Now's ambition that by 2050, everyone who develops breast cancer will live. With your help, throughout 2018, Breast Cancer Now will continue to take steps to reach this monumental goal.