Sheila’s Story

How one Guernsey mother tapped into her mental strength to overcome breast cancer

SHEILA Leach was a young mother with four children when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.

Now, more than 30 years later, she looks back and feels very lucky. But she says, while everyone is afraid when they first hear that first terrible diagnosis, the key is to control the illness in your mind.

"Yes, cancer is a scary word, but you can come through it. It may sound silly, but you just have to get your head round it and take control. You have to overcome the word 'cancer' in your mind, it's the only way to get through it."

At the time Sheila says that her prime concern was for her children. "I just kept thinking 'what will become of them', who would look after them if the worst was to happen? "

But though initially very frightened, Sheila set about dealing with the illness and the treatments which followed.

"I was in the Princess Elizabeth Hospital within two days of finding the lump and the surgeon performed a biopsy, the result of which was positive. I underwent radiotherapy at Christie's Hospital in Manchester, and on my return to the island had a radical mastectomy. During and since that awful time my husband Tom has been a tower of strength and so has my family and friends. They have always given me so much support."

Sheila says that in a strange way breast cancer made her draw on reserves of strength she didn't realise she had.

"My cancer was an aggressive one and I had to have all my lymph nodes removed, but I am still here. Obviously over the years I have had regular check ups and there has been no recurrence. You just have to live for every day and not let the cancer rule your life. You must take control, it is the only way you will get through it."

(Reproduced courtesy 24Se7en magazine)

Article from Issue 19 dated Friday 03 October to Thursday 09 October 2003

Back to previous page