'Waking up is a nightmare': New mum, 30, diagnosed with incurable cancer
- Credit: Andy Davison Photography
A 30-year-old who became a mum just four months ago has been told she has incurable breast cancer — and is now warning others that being "young" doesn't make you immune.
Alice Whittaker, who grew up in Norwich but now lives in Loddon, received the devastating diagnosis in September after a lump on her breast appeared out of nowhere one evening, followed by another in her armpit.
The cancer, known as triple negative breast cancer, is extremely aggressive and often resistant to treatment.
At first she was told by doctors she was probably "too young" to have it, but scans revealed otherwise.
Biopsies showed it had spread to her lymph nodes, liver and spine, and she began chemotherapy five weeks ago.
The new mum, who already spends a lot of time in pain from bowel inflammation caused by Crohn's disease, gave birth to her little boy Reuben in June — and more than anything wants to see him grow up.
Alice said: "I found the lump when Reuben was eight weeks old.
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"I'm in constant pain, and I've had to stop breastfeeding to go through weekly chemotherapy sessions. That was really hard to hear.
"It's hard to describe how I'm feeling. For everyone else, waking up from a nightmare is a relief. But for me, waking up is the nightmare.
"I'm terrified I won't get to see Reuben take his first steps or hear his first words.
"Each morning I reach for my hair and feel it come out in my fingers or see it lying on my pillow. Some days it is really tough.
"My mum died of breast cancer not even two years ago. I still haven't got over that.
"I want all young women to know that they should be checking their breasts and armpits every month. Nobody is too young to be immune from this."
Alice's husband Saul, also 30, is a self-employed barber at Swagger & Jacks, while she works in customer pensions at Aviva.
The two are only just starting their family together.
She said she is "praying every day" for a miracle.
Her friends have set up a GoFundMe page where people can donate to help Alice make memories with her family.
To donate, click here.
How to check your breasts and what to do if you feel a lump
The charity Breast Cancer Now says there is no one way to check your breasts.
Experts suggest people should try to get to know how their breasts look and feel so that they know what's normal for them.
This should be a regular part of body care so people can feel more confident about noticing any changes.
If anyone notices changes they should get in touch with their GP.
The charity added: "Look and feel at your breasts regularly, such as while in the bath or shower, when you use body moisturiser or when you get dressed. Essentially, whatever suits you best.
"It's important to check all parts of your breast and armpits up to your collarbone.
"It's not just lumps too: look out for swelling, puckering or dimpling of the skin, changes or discharge from the nipples.
"Early diagnosis could make all the difference."