Accrington mum tells of brave terminal breast cancer battle

A MUM-OF-ONE has told of her brave battle with terminal breast cancer.

Amanda Hartley, from Accrington, was given the diagnosis, after the disease returned for the second time in May last year.

The 47-year-old was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 after finding a lump in her breast – but that was successfully treated.

However she was told the cancer had returned last year and had spread to her bones and was inoperable. She was given three years to live.

Ms Hartley said: “The first time I was diagnosed, I found a lump in my breast in 2015.

It was big and growing fast – but thankfully it hadn’t spread to my lymph nodes.

“I had a lumpectomy, chemo and radiotherapy.

“18 months later I started with chest pain. The doctors treated me for pleurisy, but it wouldn’t go away.

“Eventually I was referred to the breast unit and last May I was told the cancer had returned and that it had spread to my bones.”

Ms Hartley said the cancer is triple negative and because the mass is in the middle of her chest it’s inoperable.

She said: “There’s no treatment or cure. I have had chemo to suppress it, but the chemo was causing me more pain. As a family we decided to have quality time over quantity.”

To help her cope with a battle, Ms Hartley decided to go to East Lancashire Hospice.

The Blackburn-based charity provides specialist palliative care to patients coping with life limiting illnesses from Blackburn Darwen Hyndburn and Ribble Valley.

She went for a tour and was shown the various services she could access including their creative arts department – CaST – and she’s been going ever since.

Ms Hartley said the hospice had been her ‘lifeline’.

She said: “The very first time I was shown around the hospice, I was introduced to CaST and I thought ‘I don’t think that’s for me’ – but it’s exactly what I need.

“It’s only four hours for one day a week – but Thursday is the day I look forward to the most.

“It has been my lifeline, and it gives me a purpose in life. Before the hospice, my life existed within the four walls of my house.

“I never thought I’d enjoy sitting knitting or making papier mache models – but it’s a relief to get out of the house and doing something with people who understand what you’re going through.

Ms Hartley has also accessed the complementary therapies such as reiki, back massage and reflexology and the hospice’s counselling services.

She said: “No matter how much empathy your family and friends have, they’re not in the same boat.

“You want to protect your family from how bad you’re feeling sometimes – and the people at CaST understand.

“I’m able to say things to them that I wouldn’t want to say at home. “

She went on to encourage other people to get involved with East Lancashire Hospice.

She added: All the people at East Lancashire Hospice are great and I can’t recommend it enough.

“They need to build hospice in every town, with staff as caring as those in Blackburn.

“Without their support, I would be at home for seven days of the week. It’s nice to have something to look forward to.”

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