A woman who was told a “golf ball-sized lump” around her rib cage was a cyst later had blood leak from her nipple and was diagnosed with a rare cancer.
Jayanne Suggett, then 27, was assured by doctors her nipple was “normal” when she visited A&E with the unpleasant symptom.
But her health worsened during the pandemic and she was finally diagnosed with the cancer. Jayanne has since had chemotherapy and a double mastectomy, and is on a “huge waiting list” for further reconstruction surgery.
Jayanne wants to share her story to raise awareness of the full range of symptoms with which cancer can manifest itself.
Speaking to Liverpool Echo, she said: “Listen to your gut and check your body. I’m happy I’m alive and I can tell my story, I do see the world in a different light. I know I’m different and I’m glad to be.
“Age is very much a stigma, I was dismissed and in a way I stopped fighting for myself because everyone tells you you’re wrong and you think they know best.”
Jayanne’s auntie, JoAnne Briody-Skinner, from St Helens, Merseyside, said she has seen “such suffering” after seeing her niece battling the disease and having lost other family members to different forms of cancer.
JoAnne’s sister, Leslie Wright, died in 2020 at the age of 65 after she had “cancer everywhere”.
In 2001, JoAnne’s sister Vivienne Winger died at the age of 47 having been diagnosed with cervical cancer. For several years, her dad Jack has also been battling bowel and skin cancer but is “still fighting”.
JoAnne, a 48-year-old teacher, was particularly affected when a pupil was diagnosed with cancer last year. He is undergoing chemotherapy.
JoAnne’s friend, Pauline Clarke, has also recently been diagnosed with breast cancer after she found a lump “by accident”.
JoAnne said: “When my family were diagnosed with cancer, Macmillan have always supported us and I knew I wanted to give back.
“My dad was diagnosed 13 years ago, I’ve lost two sisters to cancer and my niece is also suffering. But what really pushed me was a friend of mine retired last summer and by October she was being treated for stage 2 breast cancer and as she’s started to lose her hair, it’s really affected her.
“It inspired me to do something unexpected and chop off my long blonde hair. I wanted to do it at the school because last year a young man was diagnosed with cancer and the first thing he did was shave his head.”
Setting a fund raising target of £500, this was surpassed and the fundraiser has so far raised over £1,100 which is the equivalent cost of one week’s palliative care provided by the Macmillan cancer charity.
JoAnne added: “If people see me bald, I want them to ask questions and raise awareness. All of the kids will come and watch it, we’ve had some kids donate £20 or some £1 out of their own pocket money and the support has ben incredible. So many children didn’t know about MacMillan so it’s opened up those conversations.
“Macmillan isn’t about the disease or the pain, it’s about supporting people living with cancer, celebrating people living with it rather than seeing it as a death sentence. The important thing for me is to raise awareness.
“Check your bodies, know yourself and react quickly when something changes. It’s so important for me to give something back because cancer isn’t a death certificate.”
Anyone wishing to donate to JoAnne’s Brave the Shave can do so by clicking here.