A BRIDESMAID had to leave her best friend’s wedding early in floods of tears after her dress uncovered a worrying truth.
Erin Roberts, 29, who lives in Sydney, Australia, was preparing to leave with the bridal team on the morning of her pal Asheleigh’s wedding when her worries began.
Erin in her bridesmaids dressCredit: Feather and Finch Photography
Erin with best friend Ashleigh Broady before the weddingCredit: Feather and Finch Photography
Erin at the wedding in 2022 before leaving earlyCredit: Feather and Finch Photography
She had been excited to be a bridesmaid for her friend of six years who she had met at university and had travelled on holiday to Bali and music festivals with.
“As I stood there in my bridesmaid dress, I felt so thrilled and honoured to be Ashleigh’s bridesmaid,” Erin said, recalling the day in spring 2022.
“The dress was perfect, and as I stood adjusting the front of it, with my hair and make-up all beautifully done, my fingers felt something.
“It was a lump on one of my breasts. I’d felt it as I’d moved my strapless bra into a more comfortable position.
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“My heart began racing and I broke out in a cold sweat.
“I looked around. The champagne was flowing, the music was pumping, and Ashleigh looked incredible in her bridal dress.
“But all I could think about was the lump. I continued to press on it, and it felt like a rubber ball, a few centimetres below my skin.
“My grandmother had battled breast cancer, so I started fearing the worst straight away.”
Erin tried to put on a brave face and as they got in the cars to go to the wedding, she tried to calm herself down.
“I watched Ashleigh get married, and plastered a smile across my face,” said Erin.
“I even stood up and delivered a speech too. I wanted to be the best bridesmaid I could for Ashleigh, so there was no way I was telling anyone about what I had just found.
“I managed to get through the day, without telling anyone. But by the time I hit the dance floor in the evening with all the other guests, it got a bit too much.
“Waves of fear kept washing over me, and I got a taxi about 9pm to go home.
“As I sat in the taxi with my partner Mary Anne, 29, I couldn’t hold it in any longer and I burst into tears. I told her about what I’d found.
“I texted my mum about the lump too. She was worried and texted back straight away telling me I needed to see a doctor the following day.
“I tried to tell myself it would be ok, but something just didn’t feel well. And I cried all the way home.”
My grandmother had battled breast cancer, so I started fearing the worst straight away.
The following day, Erin made an appointment to see the doctor near where she was staying for the wedding.
Initially, the doctor told her it was unlikely to be breast cancer because she was so young, but said it would be a good idea to have a scan when she got home.
When the technician looked at the lump, they didn’t think it was serious, and said it was probably benign.
But they took a biopsy as a precaution and a few weeks later she went back to the doctors with Mary Anne to get the results.
Erin said: “The doctor looked at me and told me straight away it was cancer.
“As soon as I heard those words, it felt like time suddenly started speeding up, but also stood still at the same time. It was such a shocking moment.
“Mary Anne burst into tears and I started hugging her. But the tears wouldn’t come for me.
“I was in total shock. I even started joking about it to try and lighten the mood.
“The doctors told me it was a very rare type of [breast] cancer – a solid papillary cancer – which only has an incidence of less than one per cent.
“They said they could only find one other recorded case of what I was going through in medical literature.
“They were scratching their heads about how I could possibly have developed it.”
The average age a woman gets a diagnosis is 70 years old, according to one academic paper.
Erin said: “I couldn’t believe that my bridesmaid dress ended up saving my life – it was only the way that I’d been adjusting my bra to fit into the dress that had allowed me to feel the lump.
“I don’t know if I would have felt it until much later on.
“My friend Ashleigh didn’t realise that by asking me to be her bridesmaid that day, that it would end up saving my life.”
Erin had surgery to remove the lump, followed by three months of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiotherapy treatment.
She said: “I wore a cooling cap to try and prevent hair loss. I had to wear it for five hours at a time, but it did work.
“So it was worth it to be able to keep my hair and somehow feel a bit more normal during the treatment.
“They told me that the chemotherapy would leave me in the menopause, so just before the chemotherapy started, I froze my eggs in case I want to be a mum in the future.
“Mary Anne was great, and was by my side all the way through as I went in for surgery, and then through the chemotherapy treatment.
“My head was all over the place, and she sorted out all my appointments for me, and packed my bag every time I needed to go into hospital.
“And Ashleigh came to see me lots too, bringing me soup.
“In July this year I was given the all clear, and even though it was such a relief, there is always the fear that the cancer may come back.
“Having breast cancer in your twenties is quite rare, and its easy for people to dismiss it.
“But I would urge other women never to ignore it. If you delay it then there is more chance it may spread.”
Erin with her partner, Mary AnneCredit: Supplied
Erin during treatment for breast cancer. She had the lump removedCredit: Supplied
Erin, pictured during her cancer treatment, said: “I couldn’t believe that my bridesmaid dress ended up saving my life – it was only the way that I’d been adjusting my bra to fit into the dress that had allowed me to feel the lump.”Credit: Supplied
Signs of breast cancer
Lester Barr, consultant breast surgeon and founder of the charity Prevent Breast Cancer, shares some of the most common warning signs about breast cancer – including some you might not have known about.
- A lump in the breast
“Finding a lump in the breast doesn’t necessarily mean you have breast cancer, but any lumps should always be checked out by a doctor. Check your breasts regularly for any changes, making sure that you check all your breast tissue including reaching up into your armpits.”
- Swelling of all or part of the breast
“Swelling in breast tissue can be a signpost that something isn’t right, so keep an eye on how your breasts look and feel, checking for swollen areas.”
- Dimpled or depressed skin
“Dimpling, puckering, pulling or inwardly depressed skin can all be signs that something is going on under the surface. It’s important to look at your breasts as well as feeling for lumps, and notice any changes to the skin’s appearance or tone.”
- Changes in the nipple or nipple inversion
“Nipple changes can occur when a cancer is within this part of the breast. Be aware of changes in colour, appearance, and inversion, and get them checked by a doctor as soon as you can.”
- Bloody discharge
“Sometimes breast cancer can cause your nipples to leak a bloody discharge, which many women will notice inside their bra cups. Tell your doctor if this happens, and he or she may refer you for more tests.”
- Skin irritation or texture change
“Itching, redness, dry skin and general irritation are all things that should trigger a visit to your GP. There are lots of different reasons why skin might itch or become irritated, but it’s important to rule out breast cancer.
“Some particularly aggressive breast cancers can present with itching and swelling first of all, such as inflammatory breast cancer which is a rare type of cancer.”
- Redness and heat
“Breasts that are hot to touch or red in colour should be checked by a GP. Always make sure that when you’re checking your breasts you keep an eye on how they look, as well as how they feel.”
- Visible lump in the armpit
“Breast tissue extends all the way into the underarm area, so check your armpits for lumps, swellings and skin changes as well as checking your breasts. If you do spot anything amiss, make an appointment with your GP to get it checked.”
If you find a lump or notice any other changes to your breasts, it’s important to get checked by your GP as soon as possible. Book an appointment with your doctor, who may refer you to a breast clinic where you will be seen within two weeks.
Many signs and symptoms of breast cancer, including breast lumps, are non-cancerous and caused by normal breast changes. But it remains vital that you pay attention to your body and seek help if you notice anything that is abnormal for you.
Source: Prevent Breast Cancer