A mum-of-three given a devastating breast cancer diagnosis has pushed forward her wedding plans to make the most of the time she has left.
Michelle Owen, 30, suspected cancer when she found a lump in February –as her mother had battled the disease –but was stunned to be told it was incurable.
She had virtually no symptoms and is now coming to terms with the fact her condition is incurable, even though medics cannot tell her how much longer she has left to live.
Michelle, from Fleetwood, said: “I was just in a daze. Everyone around me was crying.
“I only felt tired. But I’m a carer and I have three kids so I put it down to that. I would have expected to feel ill.
“Everyone has been trying to come to terms with it. We have to accept the fact and just take things one day at a time.
“I have days where I get really upset, and then I have days where I just kind of forget about it.”
Michelle’s family and friends now hope to raise enough money to fund a sparkling white wedding for her and her partner Malc Holland, 31.
The couple have brought their marriage plans forward so they can spend as much time together as husband and wife as possible.
They plan to exchange vows at the Wedding Chapel on Blackpool Promenade in August.
Michelle, of Lingfield Road, said: “I don’t know how long I have. They told me that they can’t tell me until I’ve had chemotherapy.
“I had one round and I ended up in hospital with a major bowel infection, so it made me really poorly.
“In a way I want to have it because I want to live as long as I can, but I don’t feel like I’d have much of a life stuck in hospital, so I’m in two minds.
“But I do know if I don’t have it I won’t live very long.”
Michelle visited her GP at Broadway Medical Centre in February after finding the lump.
She was referred to the breast care centre at Blackpool Victoria Hospital on March 20, where a doctor thought the lump was just dense tissue.
But two weeks later, she was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer.
Her friend Lisa Russell, who is an assistant manager at Napier Homecare Services in Blackpool where Michelle works, said: “When we heard she had been diagnosed with breast cancer
we thought she’s just 30, she’ll be fine, she’ll fight it – but the next thing we find out it’s incurable.
“She has three children, she’s an absolutely amazing carer, she always puts others before herself and it’s time someone put her first.
“Michelle is a very mild and quiet girl. She never asks for anything.
“She’s one of those people who comes along and you are grateful for. She’s a diamond.”
A fund-raiser has now been set up by Michelle’s brother, Dean Owen, to help her, Malc, and children Lily-Jayne, 12, Chloe, 10, and Riley, five, make as many happy memories as they can in the time they have left together. And her friends have organised a charity night at the Little Black Pug Bar tomorrow.
Michelle said: “A lot of people who have donated I don’t even know. It was a shock.
“When my brother set about doing it, I said there probably wouldn’t be many people interested, but it reached the goal within two days.
“It upset me in a way because it made it all real.
“Then when people started donating it was overwhelming.
“There are some very generous people out there.”
Michelle pictured with children Chloe and Riley
Michelle pictured with eldest daughter Lily-Jayne Michelle and Riley above and, top, her partner Malc
Michelle pictured with her three children
How you can help
The charity night for Michelle and her family will take place at the Little Black Pug on Talbot Road, Blackpool, tomorrow at 7pm. The event will be hosted by Lionel Vinyl, and there will be singers, a comedian, a free buffet, and a raffle with prizes including a football shirt signed by the Blackpool FC team.
Her online fundraiser can be found at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/michelle-owen1988.
Disease kills thousands each year
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women in the UK.
More than 55,000 women are diagnosed with the disease each year.
On average, one in eight women in the UK will develop breast cancer at some point in their lifetime.
Men can also get breast cancer – around 350 men are diagnosed with it each year in the UK.
Michele’s diagnosis is rare. Most women who get breast cancer are over 50-years-old, and 87 per cent of women diagnosed will live for a further five years or more, while 78.4 per cent will live for a further 10 years or more.
According to Cancer Research UK, in 2016, 11,563 people died from breast cancer - accounting for just seven per cent of all cancer deaths in the UK.
Since the early 1970s, breast cancer mortality rates have fallen by 38 per cent.
Breast cancer: Know the warning signs
According to the NHS, the first symptom of breast cancer is usually a lump or thickened breast tissue.
Most breast lumps aren’t cancerous, but people are advised to visit their GP for a check-up.
Other symptoms include a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts, nipple discharge which may contain blood, a lump or swelling in the armpits, dimpling on the breast, nipple rash, and nipples becoming sunken into the breast.
Risk factors include old age, a family history of breast cancer, a previous diagnosis of breast cancer, a previous benign breast lump, being tall, overweight or obese, and drinking alcohol.