“They said I was too young. Breast cancer proved them wrong!”

By Nicole McBride

A young Co Antrim woman has found her life turned upside down after being diagnosed

with a rare form of breast cancer at the age of 28.

Nikole McIntyre was diagnosed with Inflammatory breast cancer in September after doctors

referred her to the Northern Ireland breast clinic at Laurel House.

After receiving a mastitis diagnosis in May, Nikole started to notice small changes in her

body throughout the following months.

She explained: “I’ve always been very proud of my hair, so when I discovered a bald patch, it

was possibly my bodies way of telling me there was something wrong.”

After an assessment in August, Nikole’s doctor referred her to the breast clinic due to

further pain in her right breast and the presence of a suspicious cyst. She was sent to a

dermatologist for her hair, which was dismissed as stress or the use of steroid antibiotics

that she was taking for mastitis.

Nikole has had nothing but positive things to say about her experience with the NHS during

her many treatments so far.

She said: “During my first appointment at the hospital I was very stressed, and yet even

through layers of PPE, the doctors and nurses were all extremely comforting and caring

while going through painful procedures.”

“Throughout the entire process I was told that it wasn’t cancer because I didn’t have all the

normal symptoms, so when the tests came back it was a massive shock.”

Only 4% of young women under the age of 50 ate treated for breast cancer every year, and

although statistics are low it is shown that young people are affected in a much more

extreme way compared to older women.

During treatment there is a great risk of infertility, and for young women who haven’t had

children, it can be a massive blow to their wellbeing and mental health.

Because Nikole’s cancer is fast growing the option of freezing her eggs has now been

snatched away from her.

“Whenever I was told that freezing my eggs was no longer possible, it felt like my future

babies were being ripped from my arms,” she said. “It was heart-breaking.”

Nikole is now advocating for breast screening’s for women from the age of 25.

“If women were offered ultrasounds at a younger age, it would be possible to watch breast

development through the years and monitor any worrying changes.”

“One thing I’ve found through this entire process is people telling me, ‘you’re so young’.”

With greater awareness and earlier screening there is more of a chance to catch breast

cancer early. This would greatly reduce the need for procedures that can affect younger

women so drastically.

She has found support in her family and friends, and especially her husband, who has been

her ‘absolute rock through it all’.

Nikole continues to keep a positive mindset throughout all the setbacks and has said she is

“looking forward to ringing the bell to symbolise the end of her chemo”.