'Check your boobs': City mum's plea after being given five years to live

Amy Parkins with her five-year-old daughter Sofia 

Amy Parkins with her five-year-old daughter Sofia - Credit: Contributed

A young woman with incurable cancer has said her biggest fear is watching her little girl grow up without a mum.

Amy Parkins, 34, has implored other women to check their breasts in the wake of her diagnosis. 

The Blofield woman first noticed she had a lump on her breast while showering in July 2020.

She was studying at the time with exams to be a legal executive just around the corner. 

In August 2020 she was diagnosed with breast cancer but was then told it was metastatic - meaning it had spread - and was in her lymph nodes and spine.

Her world was turned upside down when she was told she had two to five years to live. 

Amy Parkins with her partner and daughter Sofia 

Amy Parkins with her partner Stephen Webber and daughter Sofia - Credit: Contributed

Ms Parkins said: "It is impossible to comprehend. I like to think I am one of the outliers but the statistics show it is typically two to five years. I am already two years into my journey.

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"I feel well now but it is a stark reminder of how things can change.

"The hardest thing to grasp is the lost future and not knowing how long you have got."

Amy Parkins with her daughter Sofia 

Amy Parkins with her daughter Sofia - Credit: Contributed

Ms Parkins has a daughter Sofia, five, who she shares with her partner Stephen Webber, 42. 

Ms Parkins added: "I am not sure if I will see my daughter go to secondary school, graduate or get married. All these things are potentially missed opportunities."

The Blofield mum said the prospect of her daughter Sofia growing up without the support of a maternal figures is a constant fear now she has secondary cancer.

Ms Parkins has already undergone surgery which saw an eight centimetre lump removed. 

She went through eight rounds of chemotherapy from September to December 2020 before a double mastectomy.  

Amy Parkins was diagnosed with incurable breast cancer at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital 

Amy Parkins was diagnosed with incurable breast cancer at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital - Credit: Contributed

Ms Parkin had reconstruction of her breast before a further four rounds of chemotherapy. 

She said: "It's been a tricky two years. There has been a lot of upheaval with Covid so throwing cancer into the mix has caused even more worry.

"Before I was diagnosed I was working full-time and being a mother to a four-year-old was full on.

"I was a bit stressed out and run down but I did not put it down to anything untoward. I put it down to lockdown syndrome."

She continued: "Now I ache and struggle with fatigue. It is almost like someone is holding a gun to my back and I sometimes get a nudge which reminds me it's there. It's a sinister feeling - the relentlessness of it." 

Ms Parkin's mum was also diagnosed with breast cancer 10 years ago at the age of 40 but this was detected early, ensuring it never went past the primary stage. 

Amy Parkins from Blofield has been diagnosed with secondary cancer 

Amy Parkins from Blofield has been diagnosed with secondary cancer - Credit: Contributed

However it was later discovered an extremely rare tumour protein had been passed down to Ms Parkins.

Sofia will also be tested as this gene can be linked to childhood cancer. 

Ms Parkins said: "I'd just say to women please check your boobs. If you have any unusual aches or pains go to your GP and just be vigilant."

Ms Parkins said she and her partner, who is a sales executive for learning company Kingswood, have had to have honest conversations with the little girl.

"My daughter knows I have cancer and that I need medicine," Ms Parkins said. 

"She does not know it is something I will always have as she is too young to understand fully what it means. 

"But you try to be as honest as you can because kids are more observant than we given them credit for."

Amy Parkins on a video call to her daughter Sofia while in hospital during the height of the pandemic 

Amy Parkins on a video call to her daughter Sofia while in hospital during the height of the pandemic - Credit: Contributed

Ms Parkins has become friends with other women who have gone through similar struggles to her. 

Two friends she met through her support network died in the space of 10 days at the beginning of January.

Amy Parkins took on a sponsored skydive in aid of littlelifts 

Amy Parkins took on a sponsored skydive in aid of littlelifts - Credit: Contributed

Ms Parkins has since set up a fundraising page for two charities, the 4 Cancer Group and Make 2nds Count charities, as well as taking part in a skydive in July which raised £1,000 for Littlelifts. 

Amy Parkins raised £1,000 for littlelifts through a skydive fundraiser 

Amy Parkins raised £1,000 for littlelifts through a skydive fundraiser - Credit: Contributed

To support, visit www.gofundme.com/f/help-raise-money-for-secondary-breast-cancer. 

How to check your breasts

The first stage is to be breast aware, so: 

- Know what's normal for you

- Look at your breasts and feel them

- Know what changes to look for

- Report any changes to a GP without delay

- Attend routine screening if you're aged 50 to 70

How to self-examine your breasts

How to self-examine your breasts - Credit: Breast Cancer Now

See a GP if you notice any of the following:

- A change in the size, outline or shape of your breast

- A change in the look or feel of the skin on your breast, such as puckering or dimpling, a rash or redness

- A new lump, swelling, thickening or bumpy area in one breast or armpit that was not there before

- A discharge of fluid from either of your nipples

- Any change in nipple position, such as your nipple being pulled in or pointing differently

- A rash (like eczema), crusting, scaly or itchy skin or redness on or around your nipple

- Any discomfort or pain in one breast, particularly if it's a new pain and does not go away (although pain is only a symptom of breast cancer in rare cases)