Little did 30 year old Vicky Green realise, when she settled down to watch The Great British Bake Off last September that her life would change as she turned on the television.

“It was a cold night and I was wearing a big jumper” Vicky, now 31 from Chester, explains. “I tucked my arms inside my jumper as I was watching the telly and wrapped my arms around myself. It was then that I felt a lump in my left breast, like a small marble. I knew that wasn’t normal for me. When it was still there a week later, I booked a GP appointment.”

Following her initial appointment, Vicky explains that the process moved very quickly. “When I went to my GP, I thought there was no way it was cancer – I was only 30. But my doctor checked me over and asked me lots of questions. She took it very seriously and I started to panic. Surely at such a young age it was nothing serious?”

Without telling her family or friends, Vicky began a series of tests and scans to determine what the lump could be. Vicky said: “My fiancée Mick was the only one who knew. I just didn’t want to worry my Mum and family until we knew what was going on. So we kept the appointments to ourselves.”

Vicky was given her diagnosis of triple negative breast cancer on 29th November 2023, around five weeks after initially finding the lump. Triple negative breast cancer is a less common type of breast cancer. It is a faster-growing form of breast cancer and cannot be treated with hormone therapy in the way other more common forms of breast cancer can.

“It was devastating to receive the diagnosis – Mick was with me and we just went home and cried and cried. Waiting for the results was also horrendous – it made me physically sick. But whilst we were distraught at the result, at least we knew and we could tackle it. We also had to miss our dream holiday to South Africa, which was another blow.”

It was at this point that Vicky told her family of her diagnosis, including her mum Sue. “Two aunties have had breast cancer so I was offered genetic testing to see if I carried a gene that put me at high risk. However, that came back clear so either I’ve just been very unlucky or there is a faulty gene somewhere researchers aren’t yet aware of. But it’s been hard to get my head around that there’s no clear explanation for my diagnosis – I’ve struggled to get past the thoughts of ‘why me?’”

Vicky was referred to The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in Wirral to begin her treatment. Luckily, Vicky’s breast cancer hadn’t spread anywhere else in her body. Vicky was initially prescribed 16 rounds of chemotherapy, with the first 12 doses being administered weekly. She will also undergo a mastectomy, followed by a course of radiotherapy to ensure all the cancer is removed.

“Having the chat about treatment with my consultant at Clatterbridge, Dr Allison Hall, made it all very real. Dr Hall talked me through everything, including the side effects I might experience. Because of my young age, Dr Hall explained that they were tackling the cancer quite aggressively. I was surprised to learn that meant a lot of weekly appointments.

“I felt like I was quite well prepared going into treatment and knew what to expect. My mum has actually worked for The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre for 15 years, in their Administration Team, so she’d been able to give me quite a lot of information too. And the team at the Wirral centre have been amazing, so kind and helpful.”

Since her diagnosis, Vicky has been passionately advocating for checking your breasts, no matter what your age or family health history. “I’ve been telling my friends at every chance I get – check your boobs and know what is normal for you. When I wrapped my arms around myself that night watching telly, I knew what I felt wasn’t normal for me. It wasn’t something I’d felt before. It’s not necessarily just about checking your breasts for lumps, it’s about learning what they normally feel like so you can act quickly if you think anything has changed.”

Vicky is confident that her swift action has saved her life. “I’m so grateful that I found the lump in my breast when I did and I went to see my doctor. And she took it seriously even with my young age, because breast cancer can unfortunately happen to women in their 20s and 30s.”

Though Vicky is still having active treatment, she is also busy organising her wedding to Mick. “Trying on wedding dresses will be so monumental” says Vicky. “After everything that’s happened over the past few months, it’ll be a really special moment and I can’t wait.”

Dr Allison Hall, Consultant in Clinical Oncology at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, is leading on Vicky’s care. She added: “I would stress what Vicky has said; get to know your body. If you notice anything that doesn’t feel normal, please seek medical advice. Early detection and quick diagnosis is key to a successful outcome for our patients.

“Being diagnosed with breast cancer in your 30’s is rare but not impossible and Vicky is very brave for sharing her experiences to raise awareness. I hope her experience encourages other women, no matter their age, to check their breasts regularly and go to their GP if they feel or see any changes.”