Yorkshire mum opens up about three-year breast cancer battle
A VOLUNTEER Viking working in living history is sharing her story about successfully being treated for cancer to help inspire people to unite against the disease by taking part in a special Race for Life weekend this September.
Carolyn Ashley, 49, from Holme-on-Spalding-Moor, was told she was weeks away from her breast cancer being terminal, but thanks to chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy, she is now in remission. The mum to Joel, 16, and Ethan, 12, was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2017 after detecting a strange dense feeling area in her left breast.
“At 46 I was too young for the screening programme, but I found a lump myself. I was sent for a mammogram and other tests at York Hospital, I was so convinced it was going to be a cyst I went alone and sent my husband to get the kids from school. But I was completely wrong and was told I probably had advanced breast cancer, which was confirmed later by biopsy. I had to drive back home alone and go and tell my family what had just happened and it was the most horrendous experience.
Carolyn had two large tumours and the cancer had already spread to her lymph nodes.
“The doctors thought it was likely the cancer was already in other areas of my body so my treatment began with four months of chemotherapy at York Hospital rather than surgery first, which is often the first step.”
The next step in her treatment was a mastectomy and immediate reconstructive surgery. This consisted of a 10-hour operation, known as the DIEP procedure, where skin and tissue is taken from the abdomen to recreate the breast. “This part was by far the worst for me and I’m still coming to terms with losing a part of my body and grieving my old body.”
Carolyn had three weeks of radiotherapy at Castle Hill Hospital in Hull and a few months later had an oophorectomy, a surgical procedure to remove both her ovaries. After 10 months of active treatment Carolyn was in remission and continues to do well. “I’m really trying to embrace life and make the most of it and I know many others aren’t as fortunate. Things I’d previously put off doing or didn’t know about I’m now taking advantage of, like being a volunteer Viking as part of the Living History at Murton Park.”
Carolyn is urging people to take part in Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life on Saturday September 26.
Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, in partnership with Tesco, is an inspiring series of 5K, 10K, Pretty Muddy and Pretty Muddy Kids events which raise millions of pounds every year to help beat cancer by funding crucial research.
A live broadcast on the Cancer Research UK Race for Life Facebook page at 9.30am on Saturday September 26, will include an energiser from a fitness expert as well as inspirational messages of support from people who have been through cancer.