I was so healthy I barely ever even got colds – now I live in fear of leaving my kids without a mum every day | The Sun
A GYM-loving mum who was at peak fitness two years ago is now “living in fear” after being diagnosed with cancer for a third time – just a year after she finished her treatment.
Rachel Borthwick, 35, had “no symptoms whatsoever” and was in “great” health when she first found a lump on her breast in September 2021.
But the mum-of-two, from Glasgow, was diagnosed with breast cancer just six weeks later and quickly started treatment to beat it.
Rachel – who is mum to son Jaxon, eight, and six-year-old daughter Marlowe – was given the all-clear in November 2022.
But her “worst nightmare” came true when she found a lump in her armpit in March.
During treatment, in June she found a third lump in the same area – which was also confirmed to be cancerous.
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“Being told I had cancer the first time was horrific but another two times after is just indescribable,” Rachel told NeedToKnow.co.uk.
“I now live in fear every single day and suffer from the worst anxiety.
“As much as I am trying to stay hopeful and positive, I really do feel like a ticking time bomb and every single second is precious to me."
Rachel's diagnosis has also taken a toll on her tots.
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She said: “It has had a massive effect on my children.
“They know what is happening as I am always open and honest with them.
“My children shouldn’t have to worry about a life with no mummy.
“They are my whole world, and I made a promise to them to fight this with every inch of my being.
“Everything I do is for them.”
'I barely even got a cold'
Before her health worries, Rachel was at peak fitness.
She said: “I had no symptoms whatsoever.
“I was at the gym all the time and I was fit and healthy.
“My health was great prior to this – I barely even got a cold.”
When she was originally diagnosed with cancer in 2021, Rachel was devastated.
The stay-at-home mum said: “I still struggle to find the words to explain how this felt.
“I was only 33-years-old with a four and six-year-old.
“I was in total shock for the rest of that day and felt so panicked, scared and sick – but also just completely numb at the same time.”
THE NHS recommends you have a good idea of what your boobs normally look and feel like so you notice any changes.
You should look at your boobs and feel each one, from your armpit up to your collarbone.
You may find it easiest to do this in the shower or bath, by running a soapy hand over each breast.
- feel around the breast in a circular motion
- feel under your arm
- feel behind the nipple
You can also look at your breasts in the mirror. Look with your arms by your side and also with them raised.
If you notice anything that isn't normal for you, speak to your GP.
This might include:
- a new lump or area of thickened tissue in either breast that was not there before
- a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
- a discharge of fluid from either of your nipples
- a lump or swelling in either of your armpits
- a change in the look or feel of your skin, such as puckering or dimpling, a rash or redness
- a rash, crusting, scaly or itchy skin or redness on or around your nipple
- a change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast
Rachel underwent a lumpectomy in November 2021, followed by chemotherapy the following month, finishing in March 2022, and then 10 days of radiotherapy that April.
She said: “All was looking good for me.
“I had found the tumour while it was small and my scans after treatment in November 2022 were clear.
“Until my worst nightmare happened – I found another small lump in my armpit in March this year.”
The second bout of cancer was immediately tackled with full lymph node removal surgery in April, followed by chemotherapy.
She was on her third of eight rounds when she found the third tumour in June.
Her surgeon removed the tumour as it was on the surface of her skin, but pathology results revealed three small spots of cancer remaining deep in the tissue – leaving her at a very high risk of a tumour growing back.
Worst case scenarios
Rachel said: “I was hoping and praying that there would be none left at all.
“Now I am in a horrible situation as there are still some treatments available here in the UK that I can do, [including] a different type of chemo from the previous one, along with immunotherapy.
“Both are very harsh and it’s a big commitment as I would need a lot of frequent infusions, and we have no idea how the immunotherapy would affect me."
The mum's team recommended she hold off on trying a new treatment until her cancer comes back – and there is a 'very high chance that it will'.
But Rachel doesn't want to sit idly waiting for that to happen.
“As much as I understand this, sitting doing nothing is not an option for me, so my family and I have set up a GoFundMe page and we are currently researching various different treatments overseas," she explained.
“As much as I want to be optimistic about my future, I also need to be realistic.
“We all know how cancer works and mine is very aggressive.
“I need to think of the worst-case scenario to be able to progress on this journey.
“There is no specific treatment or clinic abroad decided on so far but myself and my family are still researching and have a couple in mind.”
The GoFundMe page has so far garnered more than £26,000 in donations.
Rachel added: “I am just speechless at the amount raised so far for GoFundMe.
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“I really can’t believe it. I am so overwhelmed, humbled and just so, so grateful.
“The support has been absolutely incredible.”
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