Student, 22, discovers she has breast cancer after flying home from Ibiza
John Moores University student Ellie Graham flew back from Ibiza to be told she had stage three breast cancer, making her the youngest patient to be diagnosed with the disease at Linda McCartney centre
A 22-year-old returned from a holiday in Ibiza to discover she had breast cancer.
Ellie Graham was preparing to start her third year at John Moores University when she started feeling a shooting pain in her chest.
At first the nursery nurse did not think much of the pains until she decided to check her breasts and found a lump the size of a pea, The Liverpool Echo reported.
She went to the doctors to get it checked to be told it was most likely a cyst.
After undergoing an ultrasound and biopsy, Ellie headed to Ibiza with her boyfriend Joey and their friends.
On September 27 she went to Royal Liverpool Hospital with Joey to get the results, only to find out she had stage three breast cancer.
She is the youngest person to be diagnosed with breast cancer at the hospital’s Linda McCartney centre.
Ellie said: “I wouldn’t have even thought to check as I’m only 22 but a manager who I work who is in her 50s went for a routine mammogram appointment.
“When she got the results back she was diagnosed with breast cancer, so that made me a bit more aware.
“I’d been having shooting pains in my breast for a couple of weeks but I thought it was just hormonal changes.
“And then four days later I found a lump. It was only small, it was pea sized.”
She explained how the early diagnosis turned out to be wrong.
Ellie said: “They were convinced it was just a cyst but they did a biopsy just in case.”
“I went on holiday to Ibiza with my boyfriend and when I got back we went in to get my results and they diagnosed me with breast cancer.Ellie was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer, the fastest growing stage, on September 27, 2019 and was told by doctors that she needed to be operated on as soon as possible.
She said: “I had an MRI scan and a mammogram which showed that it was only in one place in my breast.
“And four weeks later at the start of November they cut it out.”
After undergoing surgery, doctors sent off for an oncotype test to predict how likely the breast cancer is to come back and the benefit of having chemotherapy.
Due to the results of the test, Ellie was told she did not need to have chemotherapy and she started receiving treatment and radiotherapy.
She said: “I was told my cancer was a hormone-driven cancer so I was given hormone blockers which block you from producing any hormones.
“They’re a tablet which you’d usually have to take for five years but because of how young I am I have to take them for 10 years.
“They have a lot of side effects including menopausal symptoms like hot flushes and joint pain and I’ve been told I can’t take any type of contraception ever again.
“It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions. I’ve also had to have 15 sessions of radiotherapy.”
Thankfully, she underwent her last session of radiotherapy at Clatterbridge Cancer Hospital on February 21.
She has now been given the all clear.
Ellie rang the bell at Clatterbridge on Friday to mark the end of her radiotherapy, surrounded by her friends and family.
She said: “When I rang the bell the relief I felt, it was amazing.
“Over twenty of my friends and family were there to watch me ring it.
“You read a poem out before you do it and I couldn’t even get my words out.”
A video of the emotional moment has been viewed one million times since it was uploaded.
On Friday night, February 21, a huge surprise party was held for Ellie at The Isla Gladstone Conservatory in Stanley Park, organised by her best friend Michka Wilson and her cousin Zoe.
Ellie said: “I’ve never seen a party like it. Over 200 people turned up.
“The whole of Liverpool came together. People donated all kinds of different things – balloons, cakes, a photo booth, a flower wall.
“People offered to make me dresses, a singer played for free and a saxophone player, it was absolutely unbelievable.Every single person said it was the best party they’ve ever been to.”
Ellie hopes her story will help to raise awareness of breast cancer and the signs that women of all ages should look out for.
She said: “It’s bizarre that you don’t start having routine mammograms until you’re fifty when I’m only 22 and I got diagnosed.
“I know other young girls who are only in their 30s who go to the support group I go to and they have breast cancer too.
“If you’re worried about something, even if the doctors tell you it is just a cyst, push for a biopsy.”