A veterinary nurse has credited a labrador with saving her life after it headbutted her in the chest – and detected her fast-growing breast cancer.
Angie Shaw was knocked her over and headbutted by the dog she was treating as she was helping turn him over on the consult table, causing a lump on her chest.
When the lump was still sore a week later, Angie went to the GP who referred her for scans and biopsies which revealed she had a fast-growing form of breast cancer.
She had an operation to remove the tumour – which had already grown by two millimetres – just 13 days after her diagnosis.
Without the dog hitting Angie, doctors said the tumour would have taken another ten months to be detected due to its position.
Her next mammogram also wasn’t due for about nine months, by which time the invasive grade three cancer would have been too advanced to be able to save her life.
Angie said: “The lump was purely coincidental and nothing to do with the cancer.
“But if the pet hadn’t head butted me, the cancer wouldn’t have shown up for nine to ten months by which point it would have spread.
“It would have been too late. That pet saved my life.
“When we turned him over, he head butted me by my left breast, towards my breastbone.
“A decent-sized lump appeared. I left it for a week, but it was sore, so I got a doctor’s appointment the next day.
“I thought it was a cyst. When I was told that I would have to have surgery, chemotherapy and then radiotherapy my whole world fell apart.”
The grandmother-of-three then had six rounds of chemotherapy which lasted 18 weeks and 15 doses of chemotherapy.
She finished her treatment and is now celebrating being cancer free but is encouraging others to check for lumps as an ‘early diagnosis is so important.’
Angie, of Leeds, West Yorks,. said: “My colleagues were really supportive. That helped massively.
“I said that I don’t want sympathy or special treatment as I am living with cancer, not dying from it.
“I will lose my hair so I will be wearing a wig. Tell me if it’s wonky or if the label is showing – but for goodness sake, get any lumps checked.
“I hate to be the centre of attention, but you swallow your pride.
“I thought if I could save one person’s life by encouraging them to get lumps checked, that’s my job done.
“Breast cancer is almost a taboo subject, but it is nothing to be ashamed of.
“There’s nothing I have done to cause it. There’s nothing I could have done to prevent it.
“I am lucky – because we found it in time. I lost some of my hair during the chemotherapy. It is a small price to pay.
“They are quite happy they have got all the cancer. It shows that early diagnosis is so important.”
She has also said that she kept ‘positive’ throughout her diagnosis as ‘everyone thinks a cancer diagnosis is the death warrant.’
Angie, who qualified as a veterinary nurse in 2011, said: “I had to keep positive.
“Everyone thinks a cancer diagnosis is the death warrant.
“I thought ‘I have too much to do to let it get in the way of my life’.
“An experience like that gives you a whole different perspective.
“You realise how special life is and how quickly it can turn around. I have been given a second chance.
“You learn to make the most of who and what is important to you.”
Louise Mallinson, the clinical director of Beechwood Vets where Angie works, has described the mum-of-two has an ‘incredibly brave’ person.
She said: “The way Angie has tackled her cancer diagnosis and treatment has been absolutely inspirational.
“She has been incredibly brave, positive and determined in her outlook.
“Angie is fantastic with both our patients and clients, and we’re very lucky to have her as part of the team.
“We are all incredibly proud of her and couldn’t be happier that she has been given the all-clear.”