Leeds mum-of-three undergoing chemotherapy urges people to check their bodies for signs of breast cancer

A mum-of-three from Leeds is urging people to check their bodies for signs of breast cancer having been diagnosed with the illness herself.

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Hollie Brown, 31, is currently undergoing chemotherapy and recently underwent a mastectomy, immediate reconstruction and reduction to her other breast.

She was diagnosed in May but admits she has only started processing the severity of her situation since beginning chemotherapy.

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“I think, now that the chemotherapy has started, I’ve only just started to process the severity of it,” Hollie explained. "I’m only 31, you don’t expect this to happen. When I went for lymph node removal surgery, I was the youngest person in the room.

While the ordeal was an upsetting one, Hollie has paid tribute to the staff who were on hand to comfort her when she received the news. Image: Gerard BinksWhile the ordeal was an upsetting one, Hollie has paid tribute to the staff who were on hand to comfort her when she received the news. Image: Gerard Binks
While the ordeal was an upsetting one, Hollie has paid tribute to the staff who were on hand to comfort her when she received the news. Image: Gerard Binks

"That’s when I thought ‘wow, I’m really young for this’.

"I think as a young woman, it's something that you don't expect, so you don't check your body.”

Hollie, of Wortley, was in the shower when she first discovered a lump, initially thinking little of it and going on a holiday as planned.

Upon her return from the holiday, the lump was still there and she then made the decision to seek an opinion from medical professionals.

She was diagnosed in May but admits she has only started processing the severity of her situation since beginning chemotherapy. Image: Gerard BinksShe was diagnosed in May but admits she has only started processing the severity of her situation since beginning chemotherapy. Image: Gerard Binks
She was diagnosed in May but admits she has only started processing the severity of her situation since beginning chemotherapy. Image: Gerard Binks
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"It's called DCIS, which is ductal carcinoma in situ,” she said. "Normally, the cancer tends to stay in the milk ducts, it stays in the tubes.

"They told me on that day that I'd need a full left mastectomy. so we went through the options of whether I wanted implants, if I wanted a tissue transfer from my tummy, so I opted for the tummy tuck.”

She then had reconstruction on July 26, which involved the use of tissue from her stomach to create a new left breast.

However, two weeks later, she was informed the cancer had grown rapidly. The cancer was no longer restricted to the ducts and had become invasive.

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"I found out on my own, which was my choice because I didn’t think I was going to get bad news,” Hollie explained. “My husband waited in the car.

"You don’t ever think you’re going to hear the bad news.”

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While the ordeal was an upsetting one, Hollie has paid tribute to the staff who were on hand to comfort her when she received the news.

"The ward was amazing, the staff were so amazing,” she said. “They’re so comforting while you’re there.”

Hollie is now undergoing chemotherapy, which she admits has hit her harder than she was expecting it to.

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"After coming home, I've felt absolutely dreadful,” she said. “I’ve been woozy, dizzy, light-headed, they give you anti-sickness so you don’t feel that side of things. I couldn’t imagine feeling sick on top of how I’ve been feeling.

"I’ve spent the last week in bed pretty much, I’ve not been able to take the kids to school. It has hit quite hard, harder than I expected it to.”

Motivated by her own experiences, Hollie is now determined to ensure others check their bodies for signs of breast cancer.

"We found mine early enough to treat it and I can’t imagine if I’d have just ignored that lump,” she said. “Even now, with it turning invasive, how different my story could have been a few months down the line.

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"I'm really trying to advocate now that people check their bodies for change – men can get breast cancer, which I didn't know.

"I think it's so important now that we need to know what's normal for our bodies and notice the change.

"When you do notice the change, don't be scared, go get it checked out.

"Early diagnosis can be of such massive importance.”

A fundraising event at The Golden Fleece in Wortley has been arranged and will raise money for Breast Cancer Now, The Little Princess Trust and Hollie’s own GoFundMe, which has been set up to support her family and allow them to make memories at a trying time.

It will be held on Saturday October 1, starting at 2pm.

Information on the event can be found here.