I don't want my girls to battle breast cancer like I've had to
A mother battling breast cancer for a second time is worried that her two daughters may eventually get the disease.
Heather Leedham, 53, was first diagnosed in 2005, and had both breasts removed to try to beat the cancer. But it returned in December, and she is again going through chemotherapy.
Now Mrs Leedham – whose mother Margaret Francis died of breast cancer – has told of the concerns she has about her two daughters, Donna Allenby, 30, and Jodie Keast, 22.
Mrs Leedham, who lives in Burton-Upon-Stather with her husband Mark, said: "I always nag my two daughters and three nieces to get checked. I would feel so guilty if one of them was to be diagnosed with breast cancer. I worry about it now, because it is not something you want to have genetically passed on to your children."
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Mrs Leedham was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, and had a mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and reconstructive surgery. In 2006, she had her other breast removed to stop the cancer spreading, but last year found a lump in some of the remaining breast tissue – which doctors confirmed was breast cancer.
Mrs Leedham said cancer had also had a impact on others in her family – including her sister Alison, who died of brain cancer at the age of 31.
"My mum had it as well as me, so it will be in the back of my daughters' minds that they might suffer from it," she said. "She had it three times, and died of a combination of breast cancer and emphysema.
"When I was first diagnosed, it was the only time I was pleased that my mum was no longer with us. She would have felt guilty if she'd seen I had the same illness, and would have blamed herself."
Daughter Donna said: "My mum is the strongest woman I know and she has so much will power. It took us all by surprise when she was diagnosed a second time. She had got through it once and taken extra precautions, and it just didn't seem fair.
"When I look at what my mum has been through, and her mum before that, I am pretty convinced that at some point in my life I will get breast cancer.
"I check myself regularly, but because of the family history I would be surprised if I didn't at least have a serious scare at some point."
Jodie said: "I do worry about breast cancer, because it looks as though it is hereditary in my family. I have been for tests in the past, and mum makes sure we check ourselves regularly.
"She is my inspiration, and is such a strong person. If she can get through it, then I'm sure I could as well."
Now Donna has dedicated a designer wedding dress to her mother to raise money for Breakthrough Breast Cancer.