- Margaret Wallace and her only child were told they had cancer five weeks apart
- Maria O’Neill was cleaning fake tan when she found a lump in her breast
- and her mom thought her ovarian cancer symptoms were due to stress
A mother and daughter narrated how they both had a shock cancer diagnosis within five weeks.
Margaret Wallace, 55, and her only child, Maria O’Neill, both faced disturbing news this summer.
Ms O’Neill, a 28-year-old mother-in-law who works as a nurse, was cleaning off a fake tan in the shower when she found a lump in her breast.
Doctors assumed it was harmless, but tests conducted in July, weeks after feeling the lump for the first time, revealed it was cancer.
And her mother Ms Wallace, who lives in Cotbridge, North Lanarkshire – the same town where her daughter was born, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in August.
But the hospital’s caterer thought her abdominal pain and vomiting – major symptoms of the illness – were due to the stress of her daughter’s illness.
The double diagnosis has left the family stunned, but they are presenting a brave face for Ms. O’Neill’s two-year-old daughter, Mila.
To add to the family’s concerns, Ms O’Neill’s sick pay has been halved since November, pushing the bills to pay as she battles cancer.
Speaking about her diagnosis, Ms O’Neill said: ‘I found it by accident in the shower. I’m guilty of not investigating myself, thank God I did.
‘Despite being a nurse and telling everyone else to take care of themselves, it was something I never did.
‘It was my mother’s birthday and I had applied a fake tan the night before. I [was] Cleaning it up and that’s why I found it. Thank God for the fake tan.’
Margaret Wallace, 55, and their only child, 28-year-old Maria O’Neill, were diagnosed with cancer only five weeks apart.
Ms O’Neill (pictured with her daughter Mila and mother) was scrubbing off a fake tan in the shower when she found a lump in her breast, which she was told was cancer in July.
How to check your breasts – and what to keep in mind
Breast Surgeon and Breast Cancer Survivor by Liz O’Riordan
The most obvious sign may be a lump, either in the breast or upward in the armpit. It may be visible, or may only become apparent when you feel it. But other symptoms include a skin dimple on the breast, an inverted nipple or bleeding from the nipple. Red rashes can also be a sign of an underlying problem.
how to check The best time is during your period when the balance of hormones means the tissue will naturally be less lumpy and sore. If you’re post-menopausal, any time is fine, although most women find that checking on the first of the month is a good way to remember.
- Stand topless in front of the mirror and check your breasts first and then from both sides. If your breasts are large, lift them up and examine the skin underneath.
- Raise your hands above your head and look again – do they look different?
- Place your hands on your hips and tense your chest muscles and check again.
- Lie down to feel your breasts and, using the flat surface of your fingers, push the breast tissue down. Feel your entire breast in a circular motion from your cleavage to your armpit.
- Also check the armpits, pushing the skin and fat against your rib.
- If you find a lump anywhere, check the opposite breast or armpit – chances are it will feel the same way.
- If you’re concerned about something you’ve found, check again in two weeks. If it’s still there, get it checked out by a doctor.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the UK, with around 55,000 women and 370 men receiving a diagnosis each year.
The risk is higher for older women, with 80 percent of cases seen in those over the age of 50.
About nine out of 10 women survive five years or more after diagnosis.
Meanwhile, ovarian cancer is the sixth most common cancer in women in the UK, with 7,400 cases diagnosed each year. Most cases occur in women aged 75 to 79 years.
More than nine out of 10 women survive their cancer for five or more years after being diagnosed.
Ms O’Neill was diagnosed with breast cancer in mid-July and later underwent three rounds of chemotherapy.
Her GP initially said that the lump was probably non-cancerous and not to worry as she looked well and was young.
She was put on a non-urgent waiting list to have her lump checked, which grew and ‘began to hurt’, she told Mirror.
She got an appointment on July 2 and was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer 12 days later.
This type of breast cancer has a 15 percent prognosis and a five-year survival rate of up to 91 percent.
Ms O’Neill said: ‘It didn’t seem like anything to worry about. It was a complete shock, I had no other symptoms.’
She will undergo breast removal and reconstructive surgery in January before taking a course of radiotherapy.
Her mother was diagnosed with stage-three cancer in early August after going to A&E due to abdominal pain and vomiting.
She initially believed the symptoms—including struggling to eat because of feeling full—were the result of the stress of her daughter’s shock diagnosis.
Ms Wallace said: ‘I couldn’t believe it. I put it down worrying about Maria.
‘I couldn’t believe I could go to A&E in the morning and be diagnosed with cancer at night.’
He faces going under the knife after his chemotherapy course is over.
Ms O’Neill said: ‘Compared to other people, I have been quite fortunate with the side effects.
‘I’m a little tired mainly but I can lead a normal life. I am trying to keep life as normal as possible for my daughter.
Ms Wallace (left) was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in August – but she thought the symptoms she was experiencing, including abdominal pain and vomiting, were due to the stress of her daughter’s breast cancer diagnosis a few weeks earlier Were.
Ms O’Neill (right) said: ‘Compared to other people, I have been quite lucky with the side…