A mother has revealed how she was left in tears of ‘disbelief’ when doctors confirmed that a small dent on her breast she first dismissed as a stretch mark was in fact a sign of cancer.
Demelza Jefferis, from Plymouth, Devon, had been getting out of the shower when she accidentally dropped her towel and noticed a strange mark on her cleavage.
The 42-year-old dismissed it as a stretch mark at first, before taking another look and realising it was a small dent that only appeared when her arm was raised.
After contacting her GP, mammograms and biopsies confirmed she had stage two breast cancer on April 21 this year – less than a month after she first noticed the mark.
An operation to remove the cancer in May was successful and Demelza was given the all-clear – but she is now sharing her experience in the hope of raising awareness about this little-known sign of the disease.
Demelza Jefferis (seen left), from Plymouth, Devon, has revealed how she was left in tears of ‘disbelief’ when doctors confirmed that a small dent (seen right) she first dismissed as a stretch mark was in fact a sign of breast cancer
Demelza said she has always been thorough in checking her breasts for lumps because her grandmother died from breast cancer aged 58.
But after discovering the dent thanks to dropping her towel by chance, she believes someone was ‘watching over her’ that day to help her spot the sign of cancer.
The mother-of-one lifted and relaxed her arm close to 100 times to inspect the small crease which appeared by her left nipple, before calling husband Gary Jefferis, 42, to see if he could see it too.
Demelza said: ‘I’ve always looked at my boobs, checked and felt them. I’ve always been amazed at how many people have actually said they would never think to check. It takes two minutes.
‘But when I didn’t actually look and feel, it was the time that something was actually there. Someone was definitely looking over me that day, for sure.
The mother-of-one (pictured) had been getting out of the shower when she accidentally dropped her towel and noticed a strange mark on her cleavage
The 42-year-old (pictured with her husband Gary) dismissed it as a stretch mark at first, before taking another look and realising it was a small dent that only appeared when her arm was raised
‘I’m a true believer in that – someone was looking over me and saying, “We need to get you to have a look”. It’s really uncanny how everything unfolded.
Eight most common signs of breast cancer
• A change in size or shape
• A lump or area that feels thicker than the rest of the breast
• A change in skin texture such as puckering or dimpling (like the skin of an orange)
• A redness or rash on the skin and/or around the nipple
• Your nipple has become pulled in or looks different, for example changed its position or shape
• Liquid that comes from the nipple without squeezing
• Pain in your breast or your armpit that’s there all or almost all of the time
• A swelling in your armpit or around your collarbone
Recalling the moment she discovered the mark, Demelza said: ‘[When lockdown started], I was more concerned that I wouldn’t be able to have my armpits waxed.
‘I got out of the shower and thought, “oh my god, my armpits are so bad that I don’t want to shave them, I’m going to have to look at getting some home wax kit”.
‘With that, I had my left arm up and my towel dropped. As my towel dropped, I went to grab it and I looked up in the mirror. The light was shining through the window, and I thought, “Oh, what’s that?”.
‘I thought, having had kids, it was just a stretch mark, until I put my arm back up. I didn’t like the look of it at all.
‘I put my arm up again to check. I must have done it a good 10 to 100 times because every time I put my arm up it was there, and every time I put it down, it wasn’t there.
‘I shouted to my husband and told him that he needed to check both my boobs and tell me if he sees anything on them at all. I kept putting it up and down, and we both checked, and he said: “That’s definitely not right”.’
After tests confirmed her cancer diagnosis, the mother-of-one had an operation on May 18 to remove the lump from her chest.
Demelza, who works as a prescription clerk supervisor, said: ‘I don’t remember much of the consultation [where they diagnosed me]. They were telling me the plan for treatment and I was just in tears.
‘I couldn’t believe it was happening. I still can’t get my head around the fact it’s happened. With COVID-19 and everything that’s happened, it has been such a blur. It’s just weird.
After contacting her GP, mammograms and biopsies confirmed she had stage two breast cancer on April 21 this year – less than a month after she first noticed the mark. An operation to remove the cancer in May was successful and Demelza (pictured above is her chest after surgery) was given the all-clear
Demelza, pictured with her husband at their vow renewal last year, is now sharing her traumatic experience in the hope of raising awareness about this little-known sign of the condition
‘It’s gone now, and it’s done. I can build a bridge and get over it. But it was very overwhelming.’
Speaking about her treatment, she said: ‘They removed the lump and a couple of lymph nodes from my armpit. They sent those away for testing to make sure it was all clear. None of my lymph nodes had cancer in them.
‘It was really, really good. My consultant said to me, “You caught this early. You’re so lucky to have found what you did”.’
After two weeks of radiotherapy, Demelza completed her treatment on July 31 – on her 16th wedding anniversary.
Now she is urging women to be thorough when checking their breasts and to look for signs of visual change, such as dents and dimpling, as well as feeling for lumps.
Demelza said: ‘Just check your boobs. It’s so important that people don’t leave it. It takes two minutes to check your boobs. People have just got to do it. It can change your whole life.’