'Stretch mark' on mum's breast turns out to be a sign of cancer

A mum has shared her shock at discovering that a ‘stretch mark’ on her breast was in fact a sign of cancer.

Demelza Jefferis, from Plymouth, Devon, was getting out of the shower when she accidentally dropped her towel and noticed a strange mark on her cleavage.

She initially dismissed it as a stretch mark, but when she took a second look Demelza, 42, noticed it was a small dent that only appeared when her arm was raised.

The mum-of-one had always been thorough in checking her breasts for lumps as her grandma died from breast cancer aged just 58, so was shocked to spot the mark by total chance.

Demelza lifted and relaxed her arm close to 100 times to inspect the small crease by her left nipple before calling over husband Gary, 42, to check if he could see it too.

After contacting her GP, a month later mammograms and biopsies confirmed Demelza had stage two breast cancer.

Thankfully treatment was successful and Demelza has been given the all-clear, so she is now sharing photos of the stretch mark like shape in the hopes of making other women aware of a cancer sign they might not know to look out for.

Signs of breast cancer

Possible signs of breast cancer include:

  • a lump or thickening in your breast or armpit
  • a change to the skin of your breast
  • changes in the shape, size or feel of your breast
  • nipple changes
  • nipple discharge
  • pain in your breast
  • any other unusual or persistent changes to your breast

If you have any of these symptoms, see your GP as soon as possible. If you know anyone who has any of these symptoms, insist they see their doctor.

Demelza said: ‘I’ve always looked at my boobs, checked and felt them.

‘I’ve always been amazed at how many people have actually said they would never think to check. It takes two minutes.

‘At this time, when I didn’t actually look and feel, it was the time that something was actually there.

‘Someone was definitely looking over me that day, for sure. I’m a true believer in that – someone was looking over me and saying, “we need to get you to have a look”. It’s really uncanny how everything unfolded.

‘[When lockdown started], I was more concerned that I wouldn’t be able to have my armpits waxed.

‘I got out of the shower and thought, “oh my god, my armpits are so bad that I don’t want to shave them, I’m going to have to look at getting some home wax kit”.

‘With that, I had my left arm up and my towel dropped. As my towel dropped, I went to grab it and I looked up in the mirror. The light was shining through the window, and I thought, “oh, what’s that?”.

‘I thought, having had kids, it was just a stretch mark [on my breast]. I thought it was a stretch mark for a split second, until I put my arm back up.

‘I put my arm up again to check. I must have done it a good 10 to 100 times because every time I put my arm up it was there, and every time I put it down, it wasn’t there.’

After an MRI scan, Demelza had an operation on 18 May to remove the lump from her chest.

She says she was shocked to tears by the news that she had cancer.

‘I couldn’t believe it was happening,’ she said. ‘I still can’t get my head around the fact it’s happened.

‘With Covid-19 and everything that’s happened, it has been such a blur. It’s just weird.

‘It’s gone now, and it’s done. I can build a bridge and get over it. But it was very overwhelming.

‘They removed the lump and a couple of lymph nodes from my armpit. They sent those away for testing to make sure it was all clear. None of my lymph nodes had cancer in them.

‘It was really, really good. She said to me, “you caught this early. You’re so lucky to have found what you did”.’

After two weeks of radiotherapy, Demelza completed her treatment on 31 July – on her 16th wedding anniversary.

Now she is urging women to be thorough when checking their breasts and to look for signs of visual change, such as dents and dimpling, as well as feeling for lumps.

Demelza said: ‘Just check your boobs. It’s so important that people don’t leave it. It takes two minutes to check your boobs. People have just got to do it.

‘What’s more important – life, or getting bad news where it could be terminal?’

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