Kate's life saving message after being diagnosed with breast cancer aged just 26

A patient at Peterborough City Hospital who was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was just 26, is raising awareness during Breast Cancer Awareness Month on how the disease can affect anyone, of any age.

Kate Lancaster, now 28, from Farcet, has no family history of breast cancer, but found a lump in her breast when she was having a shower.

She said: “I was just washing under my arm and found a lump, which was the size of a gobstopper in my breast. I went to the doctors straight away to get it checked out, but I certainly wasn’t expecting the devastating news that I had cancer, especially not at such a young age.

“Although the treatment has been incredibly challenging for me both mentally and physically, I found losing my hair was my biggest battle. I also don’t have any children yet, so I am not sure how this will impact on my fertility and I needed to begin my treatment quickly, so I didn’t get the chance to freeze any eggs.”

Kate Lancaster with her sister Jayme Iona

Over the last 18 months, Kate has endured a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy and has just had a bone density scan, which now requires her to have regular drip infusion treatment.

She said: “If I could offer any advice it would be to make sure that you check your breasts, whatever age you are as, you need to catch cancer early. I’d also recommend that you have Critical Illness Cover. I cancelled my insurance just months before my diagnosis. I have a mortgage to pay and never did I imagine that this would happen to me at such a young age. It is a huge financial strain for me and my partner as I am only entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, but he has been incredibly supportive throughout my treatment.”

Claire Hall, Breast Care Nurse Specialist said: “While it is not as common for women under the age of 39 to receive a breast cancer diagnosis, it does affect around 2,300 women in the UK every year. We really appreciate Kate sharing her story to raise awareness about the importance of checking your breasts. It isn’t something that you would expect in someone so young, but it is vitally important that we are all breast aware at any age.”

Things that you need to look out for include:

a lump or swelling in the breast, upper chest or armpit

changes on the surface of the skin, such as puckering or dimpling

any changes in colour, shape or size of the breast or breast pain not associated with monthly periods

discharge from the nipple

a change to the nipple itself such as the nipple becoming inverted