Lorraine Comerie was told she had an aggressive form of breast cancer shortly after her mother, Denise Geeves, went into remission after battling the same disease. Here the 37-year-old, who lives in Hilton, Derbyshire with her husband Steve, 38, and sons George, 12, Henry, three, and Alexander, two, shares her story.
This Mother’s Day will be very special for me and my mother Denise. We can have lunch together with the family and leave behind the difficulties of the last few years.
I’m lucky to have a mother who knows exactly what to say when I’m feeling down.
Not just because she’s my mom, but because she knows exactly what I’m going through – we were both diagnosed with the same cancer in the exact same place on our left breast.
I’d recently had my second son, Henry, and was busy finalizing my wedding to Steve in June 2019 when Mum called with the devastating news – a routine mammogram had revealed a tumour.
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It was an aggressive form of cancer called triple negative and it came as a real shock to the family. But she is a positive person and she faced her treatment head on while still finding time to help me with the wedding preparations the following month.
Mom was still able to come to the wedding, even though the tumor had just been operated on, which was a great relief for both of us.
There were difficult moments, especially when she lost her hair because of chemo. But she got through the treatment and we were all thrilled when she got the all clear in May 2020. I now had my third son, Alexander, who was born two months earlier.
Everything was going well but there was a problem when I was trying to breastfeed.
I thought it might be a congestion in my left breast so I showed it to mom when Alexander was nine weeks old who told me to go straight to the doctor.
I was sent for tests and I remember looking around at the other women waiting there and feeling sorry for them, never dreaming that there was anything wrong with me.
After two painful biopsies and a mammogram, I received the shocking news. There was an 8 cm tumor just behind my nipple, right where Mama’s had been, and it was cancerous.
I would have to have a mastectomy and chemo and radiation therapy.
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Steve was shocked but practical and reassuring but I cried and cried. I thought I was too young to have cancer.
It was an even greater shock that I had the same triple negative cancer as my mother. Amazingly, I was told it wasn’t genetic.
After months earlier going through the fear of losing my mother to cancer, all I could think about was my beloved boys. Would you have to grow up without a mother? I was terrified of going through the same treatment as Mum, but talking to her helped calm me down.
She was devastated for me, but she said, “You can do this, you’ll be fine.”
It was really hard to tell George, who was 10 at the time. He’s a bright boy and I knew there was no point in hiding it from him.
He had seen his nanny go through the same thing and lose her hair and he was so upset it was happening again. I hugged him and said I was fine, like Nanny.
warmth and hope
My mother helped look after the children when I went for treatment, which started with chemotherapy to shrink the tumor before the mastectomy.
I knew I had to lose my chest, but I didn’t want to lose my hair too. I’d seen how upset Mum had been when it happened to her.
So I used a “cold cap” during chemo. It cools the scalp to keep your hair from falling out. It’s not comfortable, but it was worth keeping my hair and looking as normal as possible for the boys. Because of Covid I had to go to appointments alone but the chemo nurses were amazing.
The support center wasn’t the miserable, depressing place you’d imagine—it was filled with warmth and hope.
I had the operation just before Christmas 2020 and radiotherapy followed a few weeks later.
We’ve always been close, but now Mum and I talked several times a day. I asked her questions about her own treatment or sought some reassurance when I was worried.
Sometimes when I was feeling sick or just having a bad day I would talk to Mum and she always knew what to say to put me back in a positive frame of mind. To be honest, I don’t think I would have gotten through it so well without Mom’s support.
My treatment ended in March last year and I was given the all-clear. I’ve been busy raising funds for the amazing Macmillan nurses and I’m trying to raise awareness about the cancer mum and I had which doesn’t always come with a lump and doesn’t appear to be genetic.
I’m inevitably worried about the cancer coming back – and I know Mom has those feelings too.
Triple negative is one of the most aggressive forms of the disease, accounting for 15-20% of all breast cancers.
It’s called triple negative because it lacks the key drivers of the disease — the estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and HER2 receptor — and therefore doesn’t respond to treatments that target them. However, it usually responds well to chemotherapy.
It’s great to be able to pick up the phone and share my fears. We sometimes joke that we live the same life.
It’s true when people say it’s impossible to understand what it’s like to have cancer unless you’ve been through it yourself.
Luckily mom had that experience and always knows what to say to make me feel better.
Hopefully we’ve both left cancer behind and can celebrate Mother’s Day this year with peace of mind.
A time to be thankful
Denise, 60, opens up about her pain at seeing her daughter suffer and how grateful she is that they both got through their ordeal
When I found out I had breast cancer, one of my first thoughts was, “At least my daughters don’t get it.”
It was one thing to deal with, but I didn’t think I could deal with it. So it was a terrible shock when Lorraine was diagnosed with the same cancer as I was. When I first had breast cancer I knew nothing about breast cancer, but by the time Lorraine was diagnosed I had learned a lot so I could help her through her treatment.
Her cancer was more advanced and her breast had to be removed while I only had surgery on mine. That was the worst for me. She’s still my baby and it was very upsetting to see her go through that.
We’re both worried that cancer will come back, but it has taught us both one thing: you have to live your life because you just don’t know what lies ahead.
I’m close to all three of my daughters, but Lorraine and I, who have cancer, have brought the whole family closer together. This Mother’s Day will be an opportunity to celebrate and be thankful that we got through such a difficult time.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/womans-shock-diagnosis-doctors-find-26558279 Shock diagnosis of woman when doctors find an 8cm tumor right where mom's had been