Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Emma’s Story - Barts Charity

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Emma’s Story

Following breast cancer diagnosis in 2022, Emma and her community have been fundraising to support the new Breast Cancer Centre.

  • Date: October 27, 2023

Emma’s breast cancer diagnosis 

In 2016 Emma discovered she had a BRCA2 mutation, meaning she had an increased risk of breast cancer and some other cancers. Emma’s genetic testing was prompted by a strong family history of cancer as her dad and grandmother had a confirmed BRCA2 mutation.
BRCA1 and BRCA2 are examples of genes that raise cancer risk if they become altered. Having a variant BRCA gene greatly increases a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.   

Emma felt empowered by this discovery. In response, she ensured she knew the breast cancer symptoms to look out for and felt confident in raising any concerns with her doctors. So in her late twenties, when she began to notice speckles of fluid in her bra, Emma immediately contacted her doctor.

“I feel like there is a lot of communications around finding a breast lump, but I didn’t have one. So, I wanted to share my symptoms to help raise awareness,” reflected Emma.

In December 2022, after several scans, she received a cancer diagnosis a week after her 30th birthday. At this point Emma decided to move hospitals and once she was referred to St Bartholomew’s Hospital, she felt heard and seen.

Support from St Bartholomew’s Hospital

"As soon as I was seen by Ms. Laura Johnson and Ms. Amandine Woodham, I just felt listened to and safe. I trusted them 100% to make decisions that had my best interests at heart, both in terms of cancer treatment and cosmetic surgery outcomes. A week or so later, I had a double mastectomy with reconstruction." 
Remembers Emma

Emma after her surgery.

“Nurse Anne and Nurse Hannah are so amazing…They really went above and beyond, helping with bra fittings, changing my dressings regularly, visiting me on the ward, always having time for me and answering my endless questions at the Nurse drop-in centre,” explained Emma.

“Later I developed an infection and Ms. Natalie Allen and Dr Charlotte Terry did everything they could, including out-of-hours surgery, to try and save my reconstruction – it worked! In September, my scans had no evidence of cancer and I don’t need to go back for 6 months.” 

Em’s Gems – giving back 

To show their gratitude towards the care and support Emma received, her partner Olly, family and friends teamed up to form Em’s Gems – a truly motivated fundraising team who ran the Hackney Half Marathon in May 2023. The team raised an incredible £6,600 with an additional £2,250 from two corporate matching schemes.

All the money raised by Em’s Gems will go towards the building of the new Breast Cancer Centre. This new dedicated centre, to be located at St Bartholomew’s hospital, aims to provide world-class care, improve breast cancer outcomes and help make a significant contribution to global research.

Em's Gems (from left to right - Emma's Dad, her sister Alicia, her partner Olly, Emma in the middle, and her friends Dan, James and Will.

Emma’s next challenge 

Going above and beyond, Emma’s fundraising efforts haven’t stopped there. Emma recently set herself a huge challenge to run the renowned London Marathon in April 2024.

“I haven’t really run since 2016, 2017 and even then, I’ve only ever ran 10km. I’m so worried about having to run for the same amount of time as a working day, that I started training in July”, shared Emma. 

"I'm hoping we can raise as much money as possible to contribute to the new Breast Cancer Centre being built in East London. It's a small token, in comparison to what has been given to me, but I hope that more people can experience the amazing care that I was lucky enough to receive at St Bartholomew's Hospital."

We’re looking forward to joining forces with Em’s Gems on the sidelines to cheer Emma on as she takes on the 42.6k London Marathon challenge – we know she’ll do amazing! 

Emma and her partner Olly who is also running the London Marathon in April.

A heartfelt thank you

“Thank you so, so much from the bottom of my heart for everything. The surgical outcomes, the communication, actioning what you say you will, the atmosphere you created and how you looked after me throughout my treatment and beyond. Getting a breast cancer diagnosis is scary and I'll be eternally grateful for the comfort and support you all provided throughout.”
Emma shares

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