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My 100km Sahara Desert trek for CoppaFeel! - Corrine Binks The Golfing Princess

The Brilliant Corrine Binks The Golfing Princess Is Treking 100km Across The Sahara To Raise Funds And Awareness For CoppaFeel

Hello one and all and welcome to my fundraising page for CoppaFeel!

I am delighted to say that I’ve been selected from thousands of applications to join a team of 120 people and the lovely Giovanna Fletcher for a breath-taking expedition. This November I will set out on a challenging, extraordinary and life-changing trek, all in the name of checking chests! I am taking on 100km of Morocco’s forbidding Sahara Desert in a bid to raise vital funds towards our life-saving mission.

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Here’s my story.

I have always been quite diligent in knowing what was “normal” for my body and when something wasn’t, I went to see my GP. On this particular day I noticed my right nipple was slightly turned downwards and knew something wasn’t right.

Given we were in the middle of a global pandemic, appointments with the GP at this time were over the phone so I called to speak to someone about my concerns, this was 11th June 2020. My GP called back the same day and after I explained the issue, she said she needed to see me at the surgery for an examination – I had a feeling at this point I knew exactly what it was.

She confirmed that there was a lump behind the nipple and referred me to the Jasmine Centre at our local hospital – a clinic for breast care. I was seen there on 23rd June for a consultation, mammogram and ultrasound scan, and had several biopsies taken during the appointment. I had to attend the appointment on my own due to COVID restrictions which wasn’t easy.

After my biopsies I saw the consultant again who confirmed that the lump was quite sinister, and they couldn’t confirm but were pretty sure it was breast cancer. At that split second, I have never felt so mortal, my first thought was that I could die. But then my level head came back on and I thought to myself nothing is confirmed, and we don’t know the extent so lets wait and see next week. I did get upset at the appointment, not because of the diagnosis so much but more because I had to deliver this news to people I loved and it was going to upset people. I’m typically mother hen so I am the one to look after others, not the other way around.

The following week on 30th June my husband was allowed to come into this appointment with me which confirmed it was Breast Cancer. They said it was stage 1 and that it had spread to one lymph node. They were sure that it was Oestrogen receptive which is the better one to get as it’s a slow grower, test results confirmed this the following week. I was at this point scheduled in for surgery. The consultant said that due to the shape of my breast, a lumpectomy wouldn’t work as it would leave me with more scarring and not a very nice shaped breast afterwards, so we opted for the mastectomy. At the time I opted for reconstruction during the operation, but again the following week things changed and due to COVID they weren’t allowed to do any reconstructive surgery so Mastectomy it was.

My husband and I had to shield for 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after surgery due to the COVID risk, and on 16th July I had my mastectomy. At this point the whole thing still felt very surreal, but although we couldn’t see anyone we had a fantastic support network of family, and friends who we spoke to on zoom almost daily which kept the situation and life very normal for us.

After a few weeks of healing (which went very smoothly and relatively low pain), and several trips to the hospital to drain fluid from the breast area, I spoke to my consultant again regarding next steps. There are certain parts of the tumor histology they look at to determine future treatment – these numbers were 4.4 and 2.9, my numbers were 4.44 and 2.5 so my consultant said if I didn’t want chemo I didn’t have to have it, I think she was basically saying don’t have it unless I really wanted it, and I didn’t. That would have meant 6 months of shielding for the household and feeling and looking like a cancer patient, two things I really wanted to avoid if I could. So I just had radiation treatment at the end of September once the breast area had healed more.

The last day of my radiation treatment was also my 43rd birthday so its something I can doubly celebrate every year now after ringing that bell. I still have ongoing treatment of Zoladex injections monthly for 3 years to put me into menopause and stop oestrogen production, and Tamoxifen tablets for 10 years to block any oestrogen that may pop up, both measures to hopefully prevent the cancer from coming back.

I spoke with my consultant in April 2021 about the option to have the other breast removed and she agreed, I had a phone call at the end of June 2021 to book me in for the second mastectomy, almost a year to the day from my first, and I don’t regret my decision to have both removed with no reconstruction at all. I have up to 5 years from my diagnosis to change my mind but I don’t think I will. I have prosthetics to use if I want to but just think how much money I’ll save not buying bras!

The way I have tackled this whole situation is with a very positive and pragmatic outlook. Worrying and getting upset wouldn’t have changed anything I had to deal with or go through so I just got on with things and keeping life as normal as we could also helped hugely. We still laughed and joked about things, and in reality, having the breasts removed hasn’t changed me as a person or made me any less of a woman than I was before.

If my story can tell you only one thing, it’s to get checked early if anything is not your “normal”, anywhere in your body. Early diagnosis is key to better chances of both less invasive treatments and a positive outcome. I was lucky to find it early, and I’m still here to tell the tale, that’s the point. Don’t leave things to chance or leave it too late, don’t have a different outcome in what could be your story one day.

We have been raising money for the charity CoppaFeel who’s aim is to create awareness among people about breast cancer and getting to know their bodies to give them the best chance of surviving breast cancer. We raised £2000 on a golf day last year and we’ve another planned in July this year where we will hopefully smash that figure.

Your donations will not only support my fundraising target, but most importantly CoppaFeel!. They are a charity on a mission to stamp out the late diagnosis of breast cancer by making sure that young people are regularly checking their boobs, pecs and chests and getting to know their bodies in order to have the confidence to see their GP if something just doesn’t feel normal. Thanks so much for your donation & support. To find out more about CoppaFeel! head to www.coppafeel.org.

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