Samira Mighty has decided to open up for the first time about a breast cancer scare that has got her booked into theatre next week to remove a growing lump from her left boob.
The Love Island star found the growth three years ago and, after being told it was ‘fine’ by doctors, she forgot about it.
She went on Love Island, won over the nation, came home, forged a career in the spotlight…and then this year noticed it was back. And bigger.
Her mother, Tracy, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, so fearing the worst, the dancer assumed she would learn the same fate after undergoing all the necessary tests.
‘It was really dramatic, I immediately thought I had breast cancer. You Google, Wikipedia, and think you’re going to die,’ she told Metro.co.uk.
‘It did play on my mind, because you’d be drying off after the shower and feel this lump and think, something is not right. Or I’d be ill and in my head I’d connect it to the lump.’
So back to the doctors she went.
‘I found it when I was 19 and I checked back then and they said “you’re young, that kind of thing happens” and I left it,’ she said of the first time she felt it, while laying down.
‘It got bigger – the doctor says it’s three centimetres now, which is quite big, and I don’t have massive boobs, so it’s not like it’s hidden. I’m self-conscious and if someone touches it it’s a bit tender; it’s uncomfortable when I lie on my stomach.’
After receiving the results last week she was relieved to have another confirmation the lump was a benign growth called fibroadenoma. It poses no risk of turning malignant, but nevertheless, Samira wants it out.
But that comes with having surgery – something she’s never had before. And it terrifies her.
‘The thought of going under, being asleep, how does that happen?’ she said, the nerves creeping into her voice. ‘Basically they’re going to do a tiny incision, underneath the crease, and if it’s stuck to my muscle or tissue, that’s when it’s more of an issue because it’s growing.’
Her nervousness soon turned to laughter as she added: ‘I’m thinking “can I give them my phone to record it”, or is that weird?’
When her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, Samira, then a teen attending dance college, was introduced to the fragility of life. While her mother recovered after radiotherapy, Samira knew there were women her mother knew who weren’t so lucky.
‘You think that will never happen to your family, then it does and you don’t think it’s real,’ she said, explaining her mother’s cancer was found my chance after a routine blood test.
‘I hope people are more aware how quickly things can change. My mum has friends who are diagnosed and then they’re dead. It’s savage.
‘Check your boobs and if you find something, just go to the GP. Look how quickly I went and now, a week later, I’m getting surgery.’
Samira is also supporting her mother’s latest efforts to raise awareness, as Tracy takes part in Black Women Rising, a photographic exhibition of black women who’ve had cancer.
‘I’m not one of those that’s a spokesperson or anything, but I think it’s good to be aware,’ she added.
She credits Alex George, whom she was paired up with in the Love Island villa for a time, for encouraging her to be more open about her health – after admitting talking about checking one’s boobs isn’t a conversation she has with girlfriends over a glass or two of wine.
‘He’s like my personal GP,’ the aspiring singer laughed about her doctor mate. ‘Since meeting Doctor Alex I’ve been enlightened to many things, and since then I’ve discovered how important it is to look after yourself.
‘You just don’t think, “Oh, I’m going to check my boobs,” but it is so important. Just spend five minutes feeling them.
‘And at any age! I was 19 when I first found the lump and I wouldn’t have thought about it otherwise.’
Samira and Breast Cancer Care are supporting Black Women Rising, a project encouraging black women in the UK with cancer to connect and share their experiences. Get involved and find out more here.
How should you check your breasts for lumps or irregularities?
Discussing the importance of being breast aware, Addie Mitchell, Clinical Nurse Specialist at Breast Cancer Care, wants women to know there is no right or wrong way to check your breasts.
‘It’s about looking and feeling regularly so any changes can be spotted quickly,’ she said. ‘The sooner breast cancer is diagnosed, the more effective treatment may be.
‘Whatever your age, being aware of all the signs and symptoms of breast cancer is crucial – it’s not just a lump to look out for. Other changes could be a nipple becoming inverted or a change in texture of the skin.
‘While most symptoms won’t mean breast cancer, if you notice anything unusual for you get it checked out by your GP.
‘Anyone with questions can call Breast Cancer Care’s nurses free on 0808 800 6000 or visit breastcancercare.org.uk.’