Healthy Living: Mum’s mission to help others in cancer fight

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Lynn Hector may have been hit with two successive devastating diagnoses - but she was determined not to let illness take away her wedding day.

The brave mum, from Waterthorpe in Sheffield, was first told she had stage three breast cancer and then months later received the news that she possessed a mutated gene which put her at increased risk of the disease returning.

But instead of calling off her upcoming wedding to fiancée Michael, Lynn immediately set about changing her plans, tying the knot with her husband just one week before undergoing surgery to remove a breast and her ovaries.

Amid the turmoil of her initial diagnosis last year, Lynn, aged 52, also held a fun day in her local pub, which raised more than £3,000 in aid of Weston Park Hospital, where she is undergoing treatment.

And, in less than a month’s time, she plans to lead another fundraiser for the hospital, to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, running throughout October.

Lynn - a mum-of-two and and stepmother-of-three - went straight to her GP in August 2012 after discovering a lump in one of her breasts.

She was quickly diagnosed with stage three cancer and referred to Weston Park.

“It all happened so quickly,” she said. “One minute I was going about my everyday life and the next I was in hospital, unsure of what the future had in store.”

Having lost her sister to cancer in 1988, Lynn vowed to fight the disease for as long as possible, while simultaneously raising cash for Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity.

She underwent chemotherapy prior to surgery and entered into a study looking at the potential benefits of a drug called bevacuzimab.

But in March, while coping with the distress of having a breast removed, Lynn learned she had a mutated BRCA2 gene.

This meant she had a significant increased risk of developing a second primary cancer, as well as a higher chance of ovarian cancer, and would need preventative surgery to take away her ovaries and remaining breast.

“I faced the news of me having the BRCA2 gene as I did any other news, head-on and unrelenting,” she said.

“The first thing I did was move my wedding forward to February.

“I thought to myself, ‘Cancer - you can take my body parts, but you won’t take my wedding day!’”

Lynn married Michael in February before having her breast removed just one week later. She completed her treatment in June this year.

Last October, Lynn held a ‘pink fun day’ which raised £1,590 towards Weston Park’s Do Your Bit campaign to fund a state-of-the-art Cancer Research and Treatment Suite.

The sum was matched by insurance firm Westfield Health, taking the grand total to £3,181.

“I knew I wanted to give something back to the place which had provided me with such admirable care,” she said.

“From the very beginning I felt I was in the best hands, and although I was going through such a turbulent experience, I somehow felt very at home and relaxed.”

Another event is happening on Friday, October 25 at the Jack In A Box pub in Hackenthorpe, featuring a tribute act, raffle and auction.

Lynn said: “For me, the fundraiser is a chance to celebrate my life over a year on from diagnosis, while raising money to support others in my situation in the future.”

Matthew Winter, an oncology consultant at the hospital, said: “Lynn has faced her diagnosis and treatment with tremendous courage and despite having some significant side-effects from the treatment has kept smiling and raised vital funds. We are really grateful.”

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Gene mutation affects cell function

Breast cancer affects about one in eight women at some point

during their life, more commonly after the menopause. Faulty genes are thought to be the underlying cause for around five to 10 per cent of cases.

There are two genes that - if mutated - increase the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. These are known as BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.

Some genes work to protect against cancer by correcting

damage that can occur in DNA during cell division. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are two examples of these tumour suppressor genes. If someone has a mutation in these genes, their cells’ ability to repair DNA damage may be impaired.

If tests uncover a mutation, options include undergoing a mammography to try and detect cancer early on, or risk-reducing surgery to remove breast tissue and ovaries. Drug trials are also under way.

The genes hit the headlines earlier this year when film star Angelina Jolie revealed she had a mutated BRCA1 gene and chose to undergo a preventative double mastectomy.