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Toral Shah

SHEVELLE COPELAND-KELLY, UK

DIAGNOSED AT 29

Shevelle, 29, from London, was about to go on a girls’ holiday to Dubai when she found a lump in her breast last summer. The mum-of-one, who was 28 at the time, was originally told it was unlikely to be anything to worry about as she was young. However, a week after returning from holiday she was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. Shevelle, who is on sick leave from her job in HR, says:

“Before my diagnosis, I didn’t check my breasts at all and only noticed my lump by chance. It was small and weirdly positioned as I could only feel it when I was lying down. However, I thought nothing of it – my Mum has had benign cysts, so I thought it must be something similar.

"When I found out it was breast cancer, everything changed and I initially thought it meant that I was going to die. The only person I’d known who’d had the disease was my grandmother, who passed away not long after her diagnosis just 18 months ago. It was terrifying and I’ve been suffering from anxiety ever since. However, after seeing a blog post on Breast Cancer Now, I engaged with the Black Woman Rising project and connected with the founder. This gave me a greater confidence to go through my fight as I felt I belonged somewhere and it helped with my feelings of rejection and anger as I was able to engage with people who were my age and from the BAME community who understood the cultural taboos I could potentially face going through this journey. Luckily, chemo wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

“I’m now really keen to raise awareness of breast cancer in young women as I now know it can happen at any age. My GP was great and referred me quickly, but I’ve heard from others who were told that they’re too young to worry about breast cancer and their diagnosis was delayed. Everyone - women, men, younger and older – should check themselves.”

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