Inspirational Castlederg breast cancer battler determined to help others

It was on September 25, 2018, that the world of a young mother-of-three from Castlederg and her family was rocked when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Young, fit and healthy, Joanne Wilson, 36, found the shock of what doctors had just told her hard to fathom.

She had been feeling 'under the weather' for a few days when she paid a visit to her GP as a precaution. A week later, however, Joanne had found a lump on her breast and after a worrying visit to Altnagelvin Area Hospital she realised her worst fears – she had developed breast cancer.

Within three weeks, Joanne had begun treatment and thankfully today, after an 18-week cycle of chemotherapy and surgery, her treatment has been successful.

Joanne has shown remarkable bravery, resistance and determination to come this far, but she is not leaving it at that, as her next challenge is to spread the awareness of breast cancer to women - and even men - near and far.

With the help of her friends and family, including husband, William, Joanne has organised a fundraising 'Afternoon Tea' to be held at the Youth Hall in Castlederg (behind the GP surgery) on Saturday, March 30, at 1pm, in a bid to raise awareness of the disease. This is a ticket-event and is sold out, but donations would be gratefully accepted.

Breast cancer is the most common type of the disease in the United Kingdom. Most women diagnosed with breast cancer are over 50, but younger women can also get breast cancer - as Joanne can testify.

"I was feeling tired and tender and under the weather generally," said Joanne, explaining her early symptoms. "My youngest child was only six months at that time, so we thought it may have been a hormone imbalance.

"A week later, however, I discovered a lump. I phoned the surgery and soon I was at the breast clinic at Altnagelvin getting a mammogram. I was hoping it would be nothing, just a wee cyst or something, but after an ultrasound they told me I had hardened breast tissue and they wanted to do a biopsy there and then. It was confirmed they had found cancerous cells.

"The first thing I thought was: 'I'm young, fit and healthy. I'm an active person who is always on the go'. So when I was told I had cancer I just thought it couldn't be happening to me, no way.

Full story in this week's Tyrone Constitution...

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