Breast Screening & Assessment Service

Vicki Peacock


Vicki Peacock's story

Vicki Peacock – 62 year old from Monkseaton in North Tyneside - was called in for a routine mammogram in July 2003 before her 50th birthday.

“My first routine breast screen found an aggressive breast cancer. I had no symptoms. Attending breast screening saved my life.”

Vicki explains: “It was something I knew was important but had never had any medical problems at all and so was not thinking of any kind of bad news.

“Within two weeks I was told there was a shadow in the left part of my chest and the doctors didn’t know what it was but they needed to check it out. "

 

In the August 2003, Vicki was booked in for an ultrasound and a biopsy was taken. They said they would send the tissue for testing to confirm there was nothing wrong.

Vicki continues: “I was called into the RVI for the results and received the devastating news that the tissue was cancerous. It was an aggressive type of cancer, not oestrogen based like some breast cancers and at stage three it needed removing as soon as possible. It was deep in my chest and I had no symptoms at all it was there. The nurses and doctors were amazing and very helpful.”

The doctors and surgeons made an appointment for Vicki to go into hospital and have the lump removed on 11th September 2003. To make sure the cancer had not spread to anywhere else, 11 lymph nodes were removed from under her left arm. This would leave a three inch scar.

Vicki says: “The life changing thing for me was that the doctors told me that due to the aggressive nature of the cancer, if I did not have the lump removed I would be dead in three years.”

After the operation, Vicki needed chemotherapy for 12 weeks (every three weeks, so four sessions) and four weeks of radiotherapy, every day Monday to Friday.

“I was asked to go onto a trial of a new chemotherapy drug to assist women in the future who had not been diagnosed with breast cancer yet. It would improve treatment for future cases of the disease.

I thought about this long and hard as it would double the number of chemo sessions I would receive to eight, over 24 weeks. I decided that, as other women had gone through tests to help me with my treatment in the past, it was my turn to do my bit.”

After the lump was removed Vicki started chemotherapy. She slowly lost her hair but attended a wig shop recommended by the hospital and got a really decent, short wig which she was very happy with. It was short, stylish and easy to wash and take on and off.

Vicki says: “Everyone was lovely in the chemo clinic; I can’t praise the nurses enough. By March 2004 I finished my chemo and started radiotherapy treatment. I was one of the lucky ones and suffered no side effects fortunately. I had small spots of tattoo ink put in three places so the machine could line up exactly where the radiotherapy had to be administered. I will have these three dots for life and I carry these with pride.

“I am 62 years old this year and I live a full and happy life. I have my health and am grateful for every day. What kept me going was always being positive and holding onto the will to fight anything life threw at me………My advice would be to keep a sense of humour, even at the worst times.”

For more information on our breast screening service click here.

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