An inspired mum examining her breasts while watching an episode of Embarrassing Bodies on Channel 4 discovered what she thought was a pulled muscle in her back was actually stage four cancer. Katie Enell, from Crosby, had never checked her boobs before but decided to when she saw it on the Channel 4 show where people see experts to get an opinion on ’embarrassing’ issues “.
Katie, then 28, found a lump and went to see her GP. She was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer which also spread to her liver and bones, and has since been diagnosed with a brain tumour. Katie told ECHO: “I had back pain for about six months, but I put it on the back burner after being on leave, lugging heavy tables outside. I don’t had no other symptoms other than right shoulder pain.”
Katie had seen a GP and been to A&E with the pain. She assumed she just pulled a muscle in her shoulder. Doctors first suspected Katie had pleurisy – a condition which causes inflammation of the tissues between the lungs and rib cage – and she was put on hold for five weeks.
Katie said: “I kept getting a new sick note and one night I was watching Embarrassing Bodies on TV, I don’t usually watch TV but being off work there was no nothing else to do.When I switched to Embarrassing Bodies it was showing you how to do a breast exam, so I just sat up in bed and just copied what they were doing, and for some reason instead of going to the right where the pain was, I went to my left and found [a lump] right away.”
Katie said the lump in her left breast was “bigger than a grape” and her mother and partner could also feel it. She said: “I called the doctors the next morning and to give them their due they got me in very quickly. I was seen within two days of finding the lump.
“The doctor didn’t think there was cause for concern but she said she would refer me to the breast clinic. I was seen at Aintree Hospital within two weeks .”
Katie requested an MRI after she started feeling twitches in her left eye (Photo: Katie Enell)
Katie was referred for further tests, including a mammogram and ultrasound followed by a biopsy, which confirmed she had breast cancer. Two weeks later, the young mum received the devastating news that the cancer was at stage four and had also spread to her bones and liver.
Katie said: “They ask you if you have any questions in the hospital – you’ve gone from being a 28-year-old mother one day, not a care in the world, to your life being in danger. You somehow so scared for your life – [you think] “I won’t be heard for Christmas, I won’t be there for birthdays”. I just felt like I was sentenced to death.
“The wording they used was that it’s ‘treatable and not curable’. At first they didn’t know how I would respond to treatment because you have to wait – you have CT scans every three months.”
Since starting chemotherapy last summer, Katie has responded well. At a hospital appointment on June 8, she was told her latest CT scan results showed that the cancer was stable and had continued to shrink in her liver, meaning she may have ” years, even decades” to live.
To celebrate the news, Katie went on a surprise holiday with her partner on Spain’s Costa del Sol – but just two days after returning home on June 17, she suffered another devastating blow after receiving her MRI results by telephone. She said: “I kind of forgot about the brain MRI with such good news. The results came back and they found a 13mm brain tumor in the left frontal lobe.”
Katie said she requested the scan after she started experiencing tingling and twitching in her left eye which was sensitive to light and doctors agreed it was the best option for her.
The 29-year-old said she couldn’t fault the care she received but was keen to raise awareness of the importance of offering cancer patients full body scans, having also met other women through the charity Make 2nds Count, who have had similar experiences.
In a video on Instagram, Katie said: “There’s still a lot to do. We need to be scanned from head to pelvis. I might not have woken up one day. How do I tell my baby boy that I might have to be registered?
“That he could have spent more time with Mom if it was just for a CT scan?” It is reality.