'Little angel' helps Nelson mum find lump while breastfeeding

Former Nelson College for Girls student Lizl Matthewson spoke of her breast cancer experience at the Pink Ribbon ...
MARION VAN DIJK

Former Nelson College for Girls student Lizl Matthewson spoke of her breast cancer experience at the Pink Ribbon Breakfast held at Nelson College for Girls.

A mother-of-two who beat breast cancer says she owes it all to her daughter - as well as a lot of help from friends and family - after her 'little angel' helped her find a lump while breastfeeding.

The Brightwater mum fronted a crowd at her former school, Nelson College for Girls on Friday to raise awareness and funds for the Breast Cancer Foundation's Pink Ribbon Breakfast campaign.

She said it was a result of her diagnosis in early January which led to a mastectomy a month later.

Matthewson was rocked by the lump she felt in her breast Unsure what it was, she decided to have the lump checked by a doctor.

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Her doctor suggested a mammogram and scan which was soon followed by a biopsy.

"A few weeks later I got the results." Matthewson was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) which resulted in surgery in February. The lump was about 6cm in diameter.

Matthewson said she called her daughter "my little angel" because she would never have felt for the lump if it wasn't for her. 

Pink Ribbon Breakfast held at Nelson College for Girls to raise money for breast cancer research.
MARION VAN DIJK

Pink Ribbon Breakfast held at Nelson College for Girls to raise money for breast cancer research.

"She had chosen not to use that breast anymore. I just thought she had a preference," she said. "It was the way that I was lying that I was able to feed her and feel this lump on my other breast."

​It just felt like a big lump. Matthewson said the lump was hard but that could vary, as could the size.

She had no other symptoms which she said was "the strangest thing" to not feel sick at all. "I just felt tired but I think that goes with any mum."

Thoughts of not being around for her children arose but at the same time her father told her you "don't go into a battle planning to lose".

"So I just made the decision to focus on the children and try and stay positive."

Matthewson said the journey had been the hardest of her life but she gained strength from the overwhelming support of family, friends and strangers.

"It didn't feel like I was doing it by myself in any way, shape, or form. "I ended up hosting a bye-bye booby party which was a really good, positive feel to have wonderful women around me."

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Three months on, Matthewson is cancer-free but will still need to have regular check-ups and mammograms. A pathologist will also look into her family history to see if the mutation was genetic.

In April next year Matthewson will undergo reconstructive breast surgery which she said was the perfect opportunity to host a "hello booby party" to continue to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research and support networks.

Before this year she would never checked herself for breast abnormalities but now is urging other women to make sure they don't make the same mistake.

"It's actually really nice to be able to share that this could happen to anyone, with the message of making sure you get support and know yourself physically and mentally. Talk to people if things are not right," she said.

"If there's anything that's not right or sore just to go straight away and don't be scared because it could well be nothing."

Check yourself

* Know how your breasts normally look and feel and check for unusual changes at least once a month.
*Be alert for new lumps, changes in nipple or breast shape or size, and unusual pain which won't go away. If you notice any of the following breast changes show your doctor.
* In the early stages of breast cancer there is usually no pain and there may be no symptoms at all. As the cancer grows, however, symptoms may appear.
* Breast cancer affects men and women but is far more prominent in women.

Look out for
* A new lump.
* An inverted nipple.
* Nipple discharge.
* A crusty nipple.
* Dimples, puckering or dents.
* Reddened, orange-peel-like skin.
* Unusual breast pain.
* Shape change.

For more information on the Breast Cancer Foundation, to donate, or host a Pink Ribbon Breakfast visit the website: www.breastcancerfoundation.org.nz.

 - Stuff

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