A woman from Corby is preparing to take the next steps on her cancer journey with her best mate by her side trekking in the Himalayas.
Potter Lisa Lovett Igo has paid tribute to her friend Alison Houston for not only inspiring her to take on the charity challenge but for making her breast aware.
Lisa and Alison, both 48, met when they were ten-year-old schoolgirls at Bective Middle School in Northampton and have been inseparable since.
In 2018, when Alison decided to sign up for a charity hike organised by breast cancer awareness charity CoppaFeel Lisa wanted to help fundraise with her.
CoppaFeel was a charity close to Alison’s heart after her sister-in-law had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had died ten years ago.
It was during the fundraising events Lisa became aware of the message CoppaFeel and Alison were helping to highlight.
The charity works towards people having the best possible chance of surviving breast cancer through diagnosis at the earliest stage possible.
Lisa had previously found a lump in her breast when she was 22 which, when investigated, was a cyst she wasn’t that concerned it was still there.
However, in 2018 she became aware that the lump had changed and inspired by Alison’s work with CoppaFeel Lisa thought she should see her GP.
Mum of three Lisa said: “If my oldest, bestest friend hadn’t done the Coppafeel trek in 2018 I would still be oblivious to the cancer growing in my right boob and it may be too late to do something about it.
“Alison did a fantastic job in raising funds for Coppafeel charity and more importantly, spreading the boob checking word.
“I had a cyst in my right boob, that was older than my then 22-year-old son Oscar.
“Last year, I started to get pain in that side and I brushed it aside with it’s that old lump - ‘it’s nothing to worry about’. Well that is definitely a myth.
“I checked in the shower and noticed it was now bullet shaped. I knew that I had to get this investigated, still with the voice in my head saying it’s just a cyst, I booked the appointment with my GP.
After a mammogram at the breast unit at Kettering General Hospital, Lisa had a biopsy to check for cancerous cells.
Lisa said: “It was a two-week wait for the biopsy results which was incredibly hard. I had no appetite and couldn’t sleep but wanted to keep busy.
“To get through the wait the best I could I did as much pottery as possible just to keep busy.
“When the tests came back, I was completely shocked to be told I had breast cancer - the nurses and surgeons were all there to break the news to me.
Lisa had to undergo two surgeries to ensure all diseased tissue had been removed. The lump in her breast had spread into her chest wall from her shoulder to her rib cage.
She then had to travel every day to Northampton General Hospital for 30 sessions of radiotherapy, with Alison accompanying her to every radiotherapy session.
Lisa said: “The breast team at KGH have been fantastic, especially my nurse Diane and NGH were brilliant.
“I rang the ‘bell’ on January 30 this year to celebrate the end of my treatment.
“Not only have my boys, Oscar, Louis and Max, looked after me, Alison and her family have been there for me every single step of the way.
“After each surgery they truly loved and cared for me - I went to stay with her at her home in Creaton.”
The pair will now travel to India to take part in the four-day CoppaFeel charity trek with five celebrity walkers: Loose Women’s Nadia Sawalha, Great British Bake Off winner Candice Brown, The Saturdays’ Frankie Bridge and Love Island stars Olivia Buckland and Alex Bowen.
Lisa has been training for the trek at home by walking up and down the stairs as many times as possible and will be practising for the mountains by tackling Rockingham hill.
Lisa added: “Because of my treatment I get really tired. My shoulders are very strong so I can’t lift heavy items such as bags of clay like I used to.
“Doing the trek in the Himalayas ticks one off my bucket list and to be with my best friend is going to be great.
“I need to say a huge thank you Alison. It could have been so different.
“If it wasn’t for her I may not even had a diagnosis, let alone get through the other side.”
To donate to Lisa please go to https://everydayhero.co.uk/event/himalayascoppafeel and search for Lisa Lovett Igo
For more information about CoppaFeel and their work to prevent the late diagnosis of breast cancer please visit www.coppafeel.org