A woman has revealed how a small dent – which she initially thought was a stretch mark – turned out to be a symptom of breast cancer.
Demelza Jefferis, from Plymouth, Devon, was getting out of the shower when she noticed a strange mark on her breast.
The 42-year-old explained she regularly checks for lumps, as her grandmother sadly passed away from breast cancer at the age of 58.
And at first, Demelza dismissed the change in appearance, thinking it was just a stretch mark. But on a second look, she realised it more resembled a small dent.
The mum-of-one realised the dimple seemed to appear when she lifted her arm, and called in husband Gary, 42, to get a second opinion.
She then contacted her GP, and after a series of mammograms and biopsies it was confirmed that Demelza had stage two breast cancer. She was diagnosed on 21st April – one month after she first noticed the mark.
After treatment, Demelza has now been given the all clear and has bravely shared images of her breast, in the hope it will raise awareness of the signs to look out for.
“I’ve always looked at my boobs, checked and felt them,” she said.
“I’ve always been amazed at how many people have actually said they would never think to check. It takes two minutes.
“At this time, 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. 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.
“[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 [on my breast]. I thought it was a stretch mark for a split second, until I put my arm back up.
“I was just like, ‘no, that’s definitely not a stretch mark’ and 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.
“‘Oh my days’, I thought, ‘what the hell is this?’. 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 had my arms up, and he said, ‘oh my god, you’ve got a line there’. I asked him to point it out and he pointed right at [what I’d been looking at].
“I put my arms down, and he said it had gone; I put my arms up and he said it was there. I kept putting up and down, and we both checked, and he said, ‘that’s definitely not right’.”
After an MRI scan, Demelza had the lump removed in May. She explained the moment she found out she had cancer, revealing she was in tears.
“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,” she said.
“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.
“It’s gone now, and it’s done. I can build a bridge and get over it. But it was very overwhelming.
“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. She said to me, ‘you caught this early. You’re so lucky to have found what you did’.”
Demelza then went on to have two weeks of radiotherapy, completing her treatment on 31st July – her 16th wedding anniversary.
Now, the mum wants to urge other women to be aware of signs of visual changes such as dents and dimpling, as well as feeling for lumps.
“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,” she said.
“[Checking your boobs and getting smear tests] can change your whole life. At the end of the day, you’ve got to do it.
“What’s more important – life, or getting bad news where it could be terminal?”