A Newbuildings mother has been bravely “walking all over cancer” by setting herself a target of clocking up 10,000 steps for every day in the month of March.
Michelle Harris has been tackling the challenge for Cancer Research UK and has set her target at £1,000.
Michelle takes up the story: “I first found my lump on Mother’s Day 2014 - not a nice gift to get.
“At first I thought it was bruising from my daughter, Jasmine, she has special needs and bangs her head against most surfaces, her favourite one being me! In spite of my initial optimism I was soon marched straight into the doctor’s office by my sister, Jessie, and I was immediately referred to the breast clinic.
“My best friend Tanya came to the clinic with me for support. The clinic did everything on the same day, so when I was asked to bring someone with me “Wee T” came along.”
It was at this appointment that Michelle heard the words: “You have cancer”.
“It didn’t seem real, until I heard Tanya break down. At that moment I thought I have two options: I can fall apart or I can fight this. There was no question to answer; I was going to beat this. Not just for me … but for my daughter Jasmine.
“Looking after Jasmine, who is now 26, is a full time job. She was born with Trisomy 4qIP36 Deletion Syndrome, in layman terms a small part of her chromosome is missing. For Jasmine, this means she cannot walk or talk, she has problems eating and digesting, and behavioural problems including headbanging. When Jasmine was born the doctors told me she would not live past the age of two; 26 years later she is still proving them wrong. I am Jasmine’s full time carer; she relies on me for everything from taking her to the bathroom, feeding, bathing and dressing her. Now you understand why giving up was not an option.
“On May 14, 2014 I had my double mastectomy; my right side healed as it should but my left side was not as straight forward. It kept swelling with seroma and was very painful so I had to go back to the breast clinic several times to have it drained.”
This was followed by a gruelling regime of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
“Every day for six weeks I had to travel two hours to Belfast; it was exhausting. I was very grateful for family and friends who helped me with Jasmine,” said Michelle.
“Then in January 2015 I had my left breast removed again due to the continual build up of seroma. I was left with a pump to help close the wound.
“I had to wear the pump 24/7 and it was agony, it took a full year for the wound to heal properly. As my type of cancer was so aggressive I had a full hysterectomy; I couldn’t take the chance of the cancer coming back. Thankfully (for once) there were no complications.
“I suffer from Lymphedema now and then which is swelling of tissue, but exercise helps keep it at bay.
“Jasmine and I are both doing great now, which is why I would like to give something back. Please support me and Cancer Research as I do my “Step All Over Cancer” which is a challenge to walk 10,000 steps a day in March.” www.justgiving.com/fundraising/michelle-harris29