Know Your Normal:
A Conversation with...
SILKS Luxury Lifestyle specialists are proud to partner with Helen Addis, founder of ‘The Titty Gritty’, to raise awareness for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Helen Addis is the Features Editor on Lorraine, breast cancer survivor and has created the ground breaking and phenomenally successful ‘Check and Change’ campaign. The Change And Check stickers can be found in changing rooms across the country, has caught the attention of celebrities and it has even been discussed in Parliament. We asked Helen to share her story to inspire others to ‘know their normal’.
I was 39 years old when I was getting ready for work one morning, I jumped out the shower and was putting moisturiser on when I found a lump just under my right nipple. It was round, firm and the size of a chickpea. I wasn’t worried. I thought it must be hormonal as I don’t have any family history of cancer. I wasn’t overweight, didn’t smoke, didn’t drink that much so I was pretty self confident it wasn’t cancer.
I saw the GP to be on the safe side who referred me and two weeks later I saw the consultant. In that time, another 4 lumps had grown. This only reassured me because cancer couldn’t possibly move that fast!? I remember thinking I have three young kids, I work full time as a TV producer and I was caring for my mum with dementia…I didn’t have time for this. At the appointment I had an on-the-spot mammogram, ultra sound and biopsy.
Four days later I was back in front of the same consultant who told me the words that I never thought I would hear; ‘I’m sorry it’s breast cancer’. The following week I was in hospital having a single mastectomy followed by lymph node surgery, 16 rounds of chemotherapy, 15 rounds of radiotherapy and 17 rounds of a targeted immunotherapy.
Throughout my 18 months of treatment I would chat to my closest friends and family about whether they checked their boobs. To my horror most of them said NO! I felt strongly that if it could happen to me then it could happen to anybody which is why I launched the Change and Check campaign. It is a simple sticker which goes on shop/gym changing room mirrors reminding people to check themselves for signs of breast cancer. John Lewis, Monsoon, David Lloyd, Ted Baker, Oasis, M&Co, Pour Moi and Monsoon are some of the retailers who have supported the initiative. It’s even been discussed in Parliament.
I finished my treatment in 2019 and it was without a doubt the toughest time of my life. However since launching the campaign, 52 women have contacted me to say that they found their breast cancer as a result of seeing the campaign. Knowing this has made me feel like my journey has all been worth it.
My advice to anyone reading this is that it’s important to know your normal then it’s easier to spot any changes. Check your breasts every month on the last day of your period (if you’re female) and use the below images to help you.
For more information and advice or if you want to donate then please support Future Dreams Charity who fund the Change and Check stickers.