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Little Charlie saves his mum’s life

12 October 2012

Health Care

Mum-of-four Elaine Trott has her youngest son, Charlie, to thank for alerting her to breast cancer.

While they were having a cuddle, he threw his head back forcefully, striking her painfully in the breast area. A few days later, Elaine found a lump in that breast while she was showering.

She immediately booked to see her GP, who thought it was a bruise from the bump with Charlie, but nevertheless referred her to Southend University Hospital's breast unit.

Elaine said: "My mum died of a brain tumour when I was 21 and I have always been hot on checking myself. The lump was the size of a cherry tomato and uneven like a cauliflower."

At the breast unit, Elaine was examined by breast consultant Miss Emma Gray. She too thought at first it was a bruise, but then detected something deeper.

Elaine had a mammogram and biopsy that same day and the results confirmed her worst fears.

"My whole world collapsed. I had scans the following week to check it had not spread and went in for a mastectomy on 22 December, 2009."

She was allowed out to spend Christmas Day with her husband, Chris and children Hollie, now 11, Jack, nine, Alfie, seven and little Charlie, who she says saved her life.

Since then, Elaine has had chemotherapy, radiotherapy and Herceptin and earlier this year underwent a breast reconstruction.

She said: "The breast unit at Southend is absolutely fantastic. They have so much time for you. At the beginning I was completely distraught but staff from the receptionist to the nurses and consultants were absolutely fantastic.

"I could phone up my breast care nurse at any time or just go along and have a chat if I was worried - they were always positive."

As a result of her treatment, Elaine was a willing volunteer on an international clinical trial to test a new drug neratinib.

Although it is a randomised trial and she does not know if she is receiving the drug or a placebo, she said: "I have had such fantastic treatment, I wanted to help other women in the future. And going on the trial means I have more check-ups and blood tests at the hospital which for me is a good thing.

"Whereas hospitals were always scary places for me, when I go to Southend now I find it really comforting."