October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and women across the UK get together to raise awareness of the disease. We spoke to one of East Lancashire’s breast cancer survivors.

WHEN Elaine Waine’s daughter got married last year, it was a day that she didn’t think she would see, having been diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.

One day back in 2008 Elaine discovered a lump in her left breast and spent the following months on an intense course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Now in remission, the former property valuer, who lives in Foulridge, near Colne, with her husband John, wants to urge other women to check their breasts regularly.

If women spot the symptoms of breast cancer in its early stages around nine out of 10 will survive the disease beyond five years.

Elaine said: “I would have not been here now if I had not checked my breasts. It only takes two minutes and you can do it at any point.

“You just don’t want another woman to go through it and if you are quick enough to act it will save your life.”

It was Elaine’s own quick actions which saved her life, but she revealed the shock was hard to handle.

The 48-year-old said: “I always thought that breast cancer would be the last thing that I would be plagued with. I was the strong one out of my group of friends.

"I did all the right things, I never smoked, I breast fed my three children and there was no history of the illness in my family. But that just goes to show that it can affect anybody.

“Once it was confirmed I knew I had to just get on with it. My friends and family were devastated and my parents were so upset.

“I remember being on my own for the first time after I had told everyone and that’s when it hit me. I remember being so lonely. Having cancer makes you feel lonely.”

Following treatment to eliminate the cancer that was at its most aggressive form – grade three, the mother-of-three has beaten the disease.

Elaine added: “I was overjoyed once I was clear and knew I had to think ‘this is mind over matter,’ I am a fighter and didn’t want to be a victim. I am positive and I think that’s what you need; to be a fighter.”

In spring, 2009, Elaine was in remission but her thyroid was damaged because of the treatment FEC – also known as 5FU. Her GP advised her to go to Pendleside Hospice for acupuncture to help with the side affects.

Elaine, who now volunteers at the hospice said: “In my mind you go to the hospice to die and I wasn’t ready for that. But as soon as I went inside I just fell in love with the place and the warmth and care that it provides. It is lovely.”

This month Elaine has organised a Candlelight Ball at The Fence Gate in aid of the Hospice aimed at raising awareness and funds for the centre.

Tickets have sold out but donations of raffle prizes are still required.

Cancer Research UK’s breast cancer awareness and fundraising campaign for 2011 is called ‘Join the fight for women’s survival’. Supporters are being urged to organise pink themed fundraising events throughout October.

Jane Bullock from Cancer Research UK North West said: “We are shaping up to recruit mums, dads, families, friends and work colleagues throughout Lancashire to help raise money.

"We want them to step forward and be counted. The message to everyone is clear: Cancer Research UK needs you!” To ‘Join the fight for women’s survival’ and receive a free Cancer Research UK fundraising pack, visit www.jointhefight.org.uk or call 08701 602040.

Breast Cancer Factfile

  • 50,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year in the UK. That’s one person every 10 minutes.
  • 80 per cent of breast cancers occur in women over the age of 50
  • Breast cancer is the second biggest cause of death from cancer in women in the UK, after lung cancer.
  • There are an estimated 550,000 people living in the UK today who have had a diagnosis of breast cancer.
  • Breast cancer also affects men, but it is rare – around 300 men are diagnosed each year