Cancer survivor Edwina's mission to help other sufferers
When Edwina Thompson realised in 2016 there was something wrong with her, she could not have imagined her ordeal was just beginning.
After months of inconclusive visits to health professionals about a tiny lump, an ultrasound and biopsy in January 2017 revealed she had triple negative breast cancer.
This is a particularly virulent and aggressive form of the disease, with a terrifyingly-high rate among younger women.
After surgery, two types of chemotherapy and radiotherapy Edwina, a local yoga instructor, was put into remission, although the disease can flare up again suddenly and without warning.
During her medical ordeal she had taken to social media, blogging, writing poems about her experiences and sharing her expertise in yoga.
She quickly found she had hundreds of people hanging on her every word, and was also deeply moved by the often-heartbreaking stories of other triple negative patients in a dedicated Facebook group.
She is now determined to raise awareness of the appalling condition across the borough.
Edwina, 48, said: “I had never heard of triple negative breast cancer, although part of me was relieved to know what was wrong. It is quite a rare type of breast cancer.
“On a Facebook group I joined we started with about 75 members and we’ve lost about 14 in 12 months.
“They’re often women with young children who have died. It’s horrible to see.
“We’ve got to stand together and fight to make people aware of this.
“It could also be genetic so family members of those who have had it need to know about it and get tested.
“I’ve been using my writing to tell people what it’s like. It’s great to be reaching out to people. One woman said I was the voice of so many women. There’s definitely more I want to do.”
Edwina is now using her talent for yoga, which she teaches at actor Katya Greer’s Lotus Flower Yoga in Leigh, to produce online videos to help people with cancer boost their mental and emotional health with breathing and calming techniques.
That group already has more than 100 members, and the UK-wide Facebook group for triple negative women has around 450 people involved.
Edwina says she has been left with side effects from the chemotherapy, such as nerve condition peripheral neurotherapy in her hands, and may face up to a year before regaining full strength in her left side, which was worst affected.
However, one of the hardest aspects of the condition is the fact she may never entirely be out of the woods. She said: “They cannot say you are completely free. They may be wrong. They’ve got to be vigilant because they don’t actually know what it feeds on.
“It’s like holding a timebomb. You just keep your fingers crossed it doesn’t go off.”
Edwina also plans to collect her blog entries and poems together to self-publish a book.
She also thanked the NHS and its staff for her treatment and her students at Lotus Flower Yoga who raised almost Â£3,000 to help her while she was off work.
To see Edwina’s work online search on Facebook for A Warrior’s Words and Yoga For Rising Warriors. The group for cancer patients is called Triple Negative Warriors.