Andrea, 35, from Brecon, Mid Wales, was still uneasy: she knew her own body, and she was sure the lump was different. Her GP carried out a needle aspiration. Unfortunately he did not get a good enough sample of cells, so she was asked to return after Christmas.
Andrea watched her husband Chris and their children, Denise, 10, and Matthew, 6, open their presents. She had not said anything to them yet and it was hard to join in the festivities with fear niggling at the back of her mind.
After the second sample was taken, Andrea was asked to go to hospital for a needle biopsy. Ten days later she was back at the hospital as Denise had an appointment with the orthodontist. She bumped into her own doctor who offered to get her results while she was there.
When he returned, he took Andrea into a side room. She knew what was coming - she had breast cancer. "It was a terrible shock. My first thought was 'I don't want to die.' Then I thought about the children. They were still only young. I wanted see them grow up."
Andrea was referred to a surgeon who offered her a choice between a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. She couldn't decide. "Then he said that he could always cut more away - but he couldn't put any back. I went for the lumpectomy."
This was followed by a five-week course of radiotherapy. Andrea was also put on Tamoxifen. Now, five years later, she is aware how lucky she was. Lucky that it was caught so early, lucky that the treatment was so good. "I've got a little scar running from my nipple to under my arm and my breasts are uneven, but I can live with that. The point is that I've come through, I'm still going strong and I lead a normal life."
Andrea has volunteered to be part of Breast Cancer Care's Younger Women's Network, giving support and information to women who face breast cancer in their twenties and thirties.
She says: "Until it happened to me I didn't realise how young you could get breast cancer. Even then, when I was having treatment, I was always surrounded by women who were older. Now I want younger women to know how important it is to be aware of your body - and I hope that by talking to those who get breast cancer I can give them a more positive outlook. I want them to feel that if I got through it, so can they."Reuse content