Breast cancer survivor reveals her husband saved her life

Breast cancer survivor reveals her husband spotted the lump that she ‘would have missed’ – as an expert shares the symptoms ALL men can look out for

  • EXCLUSIVE: Louise Stephens-Pantoja, from Salford, is a breast cancer survivor
  • Husband Oliver, 38, first noticed the lump in her breast that led to a diagnosis
  • Lump was not obvious standing up, was only visible from a lying down position  
  • Expert said men could save partner’s lives by being educated on the symptoms

A cancer survivor has revealed how her husband spotted the lump in her breast that led to her diagnosis – admitting she ‘would have missed’ the sign.  

Mother-of-two Louise Stephens-Pantoja, 48, from Salford, Greater Manchester, was lying in bed with husband Oliver, 38, when he playfully started prodding her chest. 

He came across a lump that later led to her breast cancer diagnosis – one that Louise, who has no family history of breast cancer, hadn’t noticed and couldn’t see for herself when standing up. 

‘If it hadn’t been for Oliver I might not have been diagnosed until it was too late,’ she said.

It comes as experts have revealed the vital role men can play in diagnosing breast cancer in their partners, urging them to educate themselves on the symptoms.  

Dr Caroline Hoffman, Clinical Director of charity Breast Cancer Haven, said: ‘It would help to save lives if men know what to look out for.’

Louise Stephens-Pantoja, 48, from Salford, credits her husband Oliver, 38, with saving her life after he spotted a lump on her breast while they were ‘messing about’ in bed 

After she was prompted to go to the doctors by Oliver’s comment, the mother-of-two discovered she had breast cancer

Louise hadn’t noticed anything wrong with her breast as the lump was only visible when she was lying down (pictured with her children Harvey, 15, and Phoebe, 11, and husband Oliver 

Louise, who is mother to Harvey, 15, and Phoebe, 11, told how Oliver found her lump in February last year – and how her husband’s willingness to be ‘rude’ by telling her that her breast looked ‘a bit odd’ helped save her life. 

‘We were just messing about in bed one Sunday morning and Oliver was prodding me whilst I was on the phone to my mum,’ she recalled. 

 ‘He was fooling around, prodding me, and he said he had noticed something. I couldn’t find it at all when I sat up – it was only lying down that it was obvious.

The couple were in bed one morning when Oliver noticed the small lump on Louise’s left breast, and it prompted her to go to the doctors 

Louise, pictured here with children Harvey, 15, and Phoebe, 11, says she owes her husband Oliver her life 

Louise says she tried to stay positive, but found it hard to stay strong in the face of her breast cancer (pictured with her daughter Phoebe) 

‘Afterwards, he said to me that my breast looked a bit odd. I hadn’t noticed anything at all wrong, it was a lump that was not visible when I was stood up straight, so if it hadn’t been for Oliver I might not have been diagnosed until it was too late.’

Sales manager Louise went to her GP and was later diagnosed with breast cancer. 

She had a full single mastectomy last summer along with reconstruction. She is now feeling fit and well and hopes to put the illness behind her.

Crediting her husband with saving her life, Louise, who had no family history of breast cancer, said: ‘It takes guts for a husband to tell his wife that her boob doesn’t look quite right – but in my case it was a life-saver. I will be eternally grateful.’  

Louise now believes it is ‘so important’ for partners and husbands to be aware of breast cancer for their female partners (pictured with Oliver and her daughter Phoebe)  

She continued: ‘It is so important for partners and husbands to be as aware of breast cancer as the woman.’ 

 ‘They look at you in a different way and from a different angle so may notice a problem before you do.

‘In my case, my husband prodding and poking me saved my life. It’s also about having the confidence to say something.’

She added: ‘I want to get that message across – better to be rude than stay silent.’

She is now backing Breastfest Manchester – a new campaign which aims to raise awareness of breast cancer within Greater Manchester.  

Revealed: The breast cancer symptoms MEN can look out for

Dr Caroline Hoffman, Clinical and Research Director, Breast Cancer Haven said men could save their partner’s lives by educating themselves about the symptoms of breast cancer. 

She said: ‘Whilst most women report that they find the breast change themselves, there is also a small percentage who report that their husband noticed these changes during intimate moments.’ 

‘It would help to save lives if men know what to look out for, and also to know that being diagnosed as early as possible ensures the best possible outcome from breast cancer.’ 

‘Just as women are advised to get to know the normal look and feel of their breasts, it can be helpful for male partners to be aware of this too.’ 

Dr Caroline revealed that while many people think breast cancer is found in ‘a lump’, there are often other symptoms. 

She said: ‘Diagnosis of breast cancer does not always come from finding a lump as many people think, but there are other symptoms such as nipple inversion, discharge from the nipple, a change in skin texture (puckering or dimpling), a change in colour of the breast (red or inflamed) or a rash/crusting to the nipple.’ 

She added: ‘Any changes to the normal look and feel of breasts should be something that needs to be brought to the attention of the GP as soon as is possible.’ 

She went on to reveal that clear communication in relationships was key, saying: ‘At Breast Cancer Haven we encourage men to talk to their partners about this, so that they can support each other in any situation where they notice abnormalities in the breast or surrounding tissues.

‘Good communication is the basis for better overall health in any relationship.’ 

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