Amanda Mealing, 51, plays clinical lead Connie in Casualty and fans of the show will be familiar with the character’s cancer diagnosis. But for Mealing, this wasn’t just another soap storyline. Around seven years ago the actress was diagnosed with breast cancer. The London-born star discovered her cancer after giving birth to her second son.
She gave birth to Otis on August 14, then on August 15 she was told she had a malignant breast tumour.
“As I settled down to feed my newborn son Otis for the first time, I became aware of a lump in my right breast,” she told Daily Mail.
“It was big, solid and it felt quite coarse.
“It was about 5cm across – and impossible to ignore.”
Mealing realised the growth was the same lump she had found – and promptly dismissed it as mastitis – when she was seven months pregnant.
She added: “Then it had been the size of a pea. Now it was the size of an egg.”
The actress went on to have a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
But Mealing made clear: “There was no history of breast cancer in my family, and I have been told my tumour wasn’t accelerated by my pregnancy (sometimes the extra oestrogen flooding a pregnant woman’s body can seem to ‘feed’ the tumour so it grows much faster).
“For me, it seems the most awful case of bad luck.”
So what are symptoms of breast cancer to watch out for?
The first symptom of breast cancer most women notice is a lump or an area of thickened tissue in the breast, says the NHS.
It adds: “Most breast lumps (90 per cent) aren’t cancerous, but it’s always best to have them checked by your doctor.”
The health body advises to see your GP if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- A new lump or area of thickened tissue in either breast that was not there before
- A change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
- Bloodstained discharge from either of your nipples
- A lump or swelling in either of your armpits
- Dimpling on the skin of your breasts
- A rash on or around your nipple
- A change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast