Isle woman Sarah Bradford has conquered breast cancer twice at a young age.
But despite her long ordeal over years, that included major surgery, the 36-year old has returned to hospital for IVF treatment, in a bid to have children of her own.
For her, 2014 started on a high note when she won a Pride of the Isle award. “It was lovely and followed an awful situation with the cancer,” she explained. “The award gave me a boost, and the hope that this might be my year, at last.”
Sarah was 27 and living at Driffield when she discovered a hard, painless lump in her left breast. Her doctor was unconcerned, she said, despite the fact that her mother and grandmother had both suffered breast cancer previously.
A few weeks later, in July 2005, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I opted for chemotherapy then in December had a lumpectomy followed by radiotherapy in January,” she said.
Her treatment was successful and in 2007 Sarah moved to Epworth. In January last year a routine check-up revealed a second tiny lump, this time in her right breast.
“Tests were done immediately and cancer was confirmed within two weeks,” she said. “It was the Triple Negative strain and I made the decision to go for a double mastectomy and more chemotherapy. It was a seven and a half hour operation with reconstruction.” She added: “ Because I was small, muscle was pulled from my back to reconstruct. Then another operation was necessary due to an infection.”
At 35, and with new partner Dean Whitwood in agreement, Sarah ignored advice from others and decided to try for a family using IVF treatment, with embryos rather than eggs, to afford a greater chance of success.
Usually achieved over four-months, the IVF was condensed in to one month for Sarah at Hull Royal Infirmary last May.
Four embryos are frozen, with an implant planned in September. Sarah has another operation for reconstruction to face this month, and time has to be allowed for the effects of general anaesthetic to wear off.
“There are four chances with the embryos. I am identified as having the hereditary BRCA1 gene that carries a 60 per cent chance of cancer returning, with 40 per cent increased chance of ovarian cancer,” said Sarah. “We just have to wait and see how things go.
“I see myself as one of the lucky ones because I’m still here. I’m back at work full time and hoping I’ve seen the last of cancer.
“Mine and Dean’s families have been great, and my many friends here in the Isle are phenomenal. The Pride of the Isle Awards felt like the Oscars to me, and I hope I’ve raised the profile of cancer.
“It can happen to young people. Everyone should trust their intuition. But it’s not a life sentence if caught early enough.”