A Leyland mum who suffered a severe allergic reaction to her chemotherapy urges women to check their breasts, saying 'my boobs nearly killed me'

A mum insists women should check their boobs, as hers almost killed her - and now she is determined to raise awareness to detect breast cancer early.

By Natalie Walker
Friday, 3rd January 2020, 11:45 am
Sophie Johnson (middle) who is recovering from breast cancer, with Barbara Andrews (left),  and Jane Norris (right)
Sophie Johnson (middle) who is recovering from breast cancer, with Barbara Andrews (left), and Jane Norris (right)

When Sophie Johnson, of Leyland, found a lump after checking herself last April, she booked an appointment with her doctor as soon as she could.

Despite her consultant at Chorley and South Ribble Hospital reassuring her it was not anything serious, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

She underwent six months of chemotherapy, but her second dose nearly killed her as she suffered a serious allergic reaction.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Sophie Johnson (second right) with colleagues at Batleys in Preston, who have raised funds for Rosemere Cancer Foundation

The 32-year-old mother-of-two recalls: “I didn’t really think about it much. I went to the appointment at the breast clinic and the doctor said he was 99 per cent sure it was not cancer, but he needed to be 100 per cent sure.

“I had my ultrasound and biopsy and I was told I would get the results by letter in a week, but that never came.

“I got a phone call a week later from the breast cancer nurse and as soon as she said who she was, I knew why she was ringing.

“I kept saying ‘it’s cancer isn’t it?’ but all she said was ‘can you come in tomorrow to see us and can you bring someone with you?’

Sophie Johnson before she was diagnosed with cancer

“I knew from the pit of my stomach it was cancer. The next day I went in and I was told it was cancer.”

At the appointment, Sophie was told that the biopsy had detected early stage breast cancer but that her lump – her tumour – was very aggressive.

She adds: “There were tears for 30 seconds and then I was talking about the next steps. I kept saying ‘when are you going to take them (my breasts) off but the nurse said it might not come to that. We just had a bit of a laugh really.”

Sophie had 24 weeks of intensive chemotherapy at Rosemere Cancer Foundation’s unit at Chorley Hospital. However, she suffered a severe reaction and thanks a quick-thinking nurse called John for saving her.

Sophie Johnson after she had her head shaved

She reveals: “The chemo was tough, During my second lot I had an allergic reaction and I had to get emergency medicine. There were sirens going off - it was very scary.

“As soon as the chemo was put into me I clutched my chest and said I didn’t feel well. The nurse, John, who was sat next to me smashed the alarm and pumped adrenalin into me. He saved my life.

“Everyone came running and a nurse sister calmed me down, explaining what was going on. I can’t praise them enough.”

Sophie had surgery in October and she has now begun radiotherapy at Rosemere Cancer Centre, attending treatment sessions every week day for four weeks.

She adds: “I just need to finish my radiotherapy to make sure it is all gone, so my prognosis is good.”

After she finished her chemotherapy at Chorley and South Ribble Hospital, she presented nurses with Cadbury’s Heroes chocolates as a thank you.

But now she’s gone one better by raising £1,021 for the chemo unit. With the help of her colleagues at Walton Summit cash and carry Batleys Preston, Jane Norris and Barbara Andrews, Sophie organised a staff fun day with a fund-raising tombola, cake sale, football cards and auction.

Sophie says: “I would like to thank everyone at work for their support and donations. Since my diagnosis, my colleagues have become much more breast aware, which is the one good thing to come out of all this. I would urge all women, especially younger women who think they don’t need to bother, to get to know their breasts and what is normal for them. Mine almost killed me. Should there be any change, you can spot it immediately and get it checked. It is not just women, as many men are diagnosed with testicular cancer.”