'This is how I found I had cancer - now I'm going to fight it for my little girls'
She is only aged 32. She is the mum of two young children. There is no history of cancer in her family and she has never smoked or been a heavy drinker.
But Doncaster beautician Jess Allen’s world was turned upside down this year when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.
It has never occurred to Jess the illness could affect her. She was young with no family history of the illness.
But when she found a lump while having a bath, she thought it was best to get it checked out. She had not felt unwell
Jess said: “I thought maybe I had pulled a muscle, but there was no pain. After a couple of days it didn’t go away, so I went to the doctor.
“They got me in straight away to go to Bassetlaw Hospital, within a week. I had an ultrasound, and the consultant thought at first it may be a cyst. But it wasn’t showing, so he did a biopsy, and they brought me back a week later for the results.
“When I went in they told me I had breast cancer. At that point they thought it was stage two. They had me in for a mammogram and ultrasound and found another that was joined to it. They said it was stage three.
“They had me in for an MRI scan to check the rest of my body to pick up if there was anything else. That revealed my lymph nodes were clear, but they’re still going to take them out.
“I’ve had chemotherapy to prevent it spreading. The next round of chemo starts next week, and I will have a mastectomy next year and then radiotherapy in the new year.
“It was horrendous. When the doctor first told me I was stunned. Then the doctor said he’s booked me in for an operation in three weeks time, which made me really realise what was happening.
“Ridiculously, my first thought was I had an appointment for work – then I just broke down.
“After speaking to the McMillan nurse about it, I just thought ‘I have to get through this for my girls – I will fight it. And the girls have kept me going..
“My youngsest, Daisy, is only two – she doesn’t understand. They gave me a book to read to me oldest, Eliza, who’s six. It’s called Mummy’s Lump. That explained that I would get medicine that would make me poorly. She always thought of medicine making people well.
“Eliza doesn’t fully understand, but I’m trying to keep things as near to normal as possible. I don’t want her to see me being sick
“When I have chemo, they stay with my mum. I reacted badly to the first course, but my family are there for me.
“They have said there is a risk of it coming back. But I’m positive and once we’ve got it over an done with that will be the end of it.
“It’s the most aggressive form and carries no hormones, and that makes it harder to treat.
“But when I’ve finished chemo, I’m going to take Eliza to London, before the next round, because she wants to see where the Queen lives. Then next year, after all the treatment, we’ve said we will have a nice break.
“I think it shows how important it is to check yourself for lumps, and act if you find one. If I had ignored this it would have spread to my lymph nodes. Going to the doctors early has probably saved me, and the doctors have been fantastic.
“I’ve been going to Doncaster Royal Infirmary for chemotherapy. They’ve been amazing and they made sure I started my treatment within 30 days of diagnosis.”
Jess has also suffered from Crohn's disease since childhood – a condition in which parts of the digestive system become inflamed, causing stomach aches and cramps.
Her cancer treatment has meant she has had to put her medication for that on hold, but she says luckily she has not had any flare-ups.
Throughout the whole period, she has been doing all she can to keep things as normal as possible for Daisy and Eliza, while running the hair and beauty salon she owns on Main Street, Harworth, called Eliza’s Elegance.
Because she runs her own business, if she is not working, she is not earning, meaning her cancer has also hit her in the pocket. She is getting help from pals in looking after the business, but she knows that she won’t be able to work for up to six weeks next year while she has her mastectomy. That will be followed by a reconstruction operation.
She also feels work helps her mentally, as she has had a lot of support from her clients throughout her treatment.
But her friends are aware of how difficult the treatment is for her financially, and are raising money to support her through.
A fundraising website, www.gofundme.com/f/cancer-a-fight-for-a-families-future? has been set up for her, which aims to bring in £5,000. There are also charity fundraising events being held in the village, including a fun day at Harworth Miners’ Welfare Club on Whitehouse Road, on Sunday, November 3, from 12noon until 4pm, including games and activities, The Great Bircotes Bake off, food and prizes.
Jess’ own salon will also be selling pink cakes to mark Breast Cancer Now's wear it pink day on Friday October 18.