Image credit: screenshot from Benjamin Stacey’s interview
A cancer survivor is trying to communicate a positive message for Breast Cancer Awareness Month which has seen events taking place across Salford during October.
Sam Morris was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 and was inspired to set up charity events such as, Think Pink and Sparkle, in response to her 12-year battle with the disease.
She said: “We didn’t want it to be a downer on breast cancer. Breast cancer is survivable. The treatment is doable. We wanted to raise awareness.
“At the end of the day, be aware of the symptoms; check your breast, pick a day and do it every single month; know what’s different to you, learn to know how to check yourself properly.
“I would say to anybody, check yourself in the shower, check yourself in the mirror. When I found what I thought was a lump, I looked in the mirror and saw it; I was absolutely astounded by the difference I could see and it was immediate.”
Sam first noticed something was wrong when she was 40-years-old after discovering a lump on her breast: “At the time, I had two small, young girls aged six and almost four. The diagnoses came as a massive shock, I even had to persuade the GP to send me for a referral because she just felt that there was nothing there,” she said.
“I was diagnosed on the June 4 and by the June 11 I’d had a mastectomy.
“I had six rounds of chemotherapy, then tamoxifen, and then I had 15 rounds of radiotherapy. All of a sudden I was like a 40-year-old with breast cancer…wow, that doesn’t happen, but unfortunately yes it does.”
In 2011, just as she was almost six months away from being cancer free for five years, she was diagnosed with bone cancer, and was transferred to the Royal Orthopedic Hospital in Birmingham, where she had a successful prosthetic piece placed into her arm.
She said: “They basically took away the diseased bone, so effectively, they’d removed the cancer.”
However, three years after her operation, the prosthetic piece had become infected and had to be removed which, alongside her previous surgeries, resulted in her having limited use of her left arm.
After a few years, the scar on her arm, where she had surgery, started to develop lumps; those lumps were soft tissue cancer. She has now been placed on a new treatment to keep everything at bay: “It’s a secondary diagnosis; it isn’t curable, but it’s treatable.
“I’m 12 years down the line of my first diagnosis. It’s a dual edge sword because I’m going through the treatment, but I’ve met incredible people; I’ve got an incredible family, and I’ve got very good friends and family who are very supportive.
“I have a zest for life. I have an absolute zest for life. I love spending time with people. I love spending time with my family.”
Here’s a little peek into journalist Benjamin Stacey’s interview with Sam:
So far, Think Pink and Sparkle has raised over £40,000 for charities such as the Breast Care Unit at Salford Royal Hospital, and Genesis in the Nightingale Center at Wythenshawe hospital (now called Prevent Breast Cancer).
She added: “We don’t want any glory for it, we don’t want any recognition; we want people to know what to do and if they do feel something that’s not right, and insist on getting it checked.
“Remember it’s doable, it is treatable. If you are not sure, ask; that’s the main thing, ask! Seek advice, don’t do Dr Google.
“Just be kind to yourself, give yourself time. There will be dark days, and there will be down days, but there’s lots of up days as well.”