West Sussex mum told she has months left to live after rare breast cancer mistaken for infection
A mum-of-two with cancer, who has been told she only has months left to live, has warned that her rare condition can 'be easily misdiagnosed'.
Heather Bone from Selsey, near Chichester, went to see a doctor in November 2019 after noticing unusual swelling in her hand.
"They just sent me home and said to come back if it gets worse," Heather said. "I came back the next day as the swelling had gone up.
"They told me they couldn't find anything wrong."
Heather, 40, was given antibiotics but the swelling continued to get worse and eventually spread to her breast.
She said: "I was sent for a two-week referral scan for breast cancer. By that time, my breast was massively swollen.
"They found I had inflammatory breast cancer. I had my chemo, radiotherapy and surgery to remove the breast."
Having been given the all-clear in May 2020, Heather celebrated her 40th birthday during lockdown.
However, by October, she was told that the cancer had come back but was now in her brain.
Heather, who lost her mum to ovarian cancer when she was 24 and whose dad died suddenly in his sleep five years later, added: "I had a phone call from the oncologist and they are unable to give me any more chemo so told me I’ve now only got months to live.
"I've just gone with the flow. It is what is. You can't change things. I've got quite a positive outlook.
"I've gone into auto-mode and arranged my funeral. I've organised my wake and named it wake me up before I go go.
"I'm not scared of dying but I'm scared of leaving my kids."
Heather said she is an 'open book' and has fully explained the situation to her two sons, who are aged 15 and 16.
"They have known since day one," she said. "I tell them everything. I try to talk to them as much as I can.
"My 16-year-old is doing his GCSEs this year.
"It's hard but they are doing alright."
Heather married her partner of 17-years, Daniel, in 2018, at St Peter’s Church in Selsey, in a ceremony which was paid for by This Morning. They had been invited back onto the show as a follow-up to Heather’s leap-year proposal on air in 2012.
The community has raised more than £9,000 for the family, which has gone towards Heather's bucket list.
In November last year, when lockdown restrictions were lifted for the first time, the family visited The Shard and The Savoy Hotel in London and watched The Royal Ballet.
Heather said: "That was just amazing.
"It was really good to do something with the kids.
"We are hoping to go away in the half-term to see all the family. We will stay in hotels whilst going around."
Heather, who has lived in Selsey for 17 years and used to work as a dinner lady at Seal Primary School, thanked the community for their support.
She added: "People that I've never met have sent me flowers, beautiful messages and have really supported me. That's why I'm having my wake me up before I go go party. I want to say thank you to these people I've literally never met.
"Some have taken me to hospital and turned up with gifts.
"A lady called Lucy, from Beauty Bake, did a cake sale, raising over £1,000.
"It's just been so lovely. I did not realise people were that nice. They've been amazing."
According to the National Cancer Institute, inflammatory breast cancer is a rare and very aggressive disease in which cancer cells block lymph vessels in the skin of the breast.
This type of breast cancer is called 'inflammatory' because the breast often looks swollen and red, or inflamed.
Heather, who has been documenting her journey on social media, has encouraged people to 'check yourself' adding: "If you know within your body, that there is something wrong, don't let the doctors tell you otherwise.
"If I had accepted that they told me it was an infection, I probably would have been dead by now.
"About one to five per cent of people who have breast cancer have Inflammatory breast cancer and it is the fastest growing [type].
"Doctors don't know enough about inflammatory breast cancer unfortunately so it can be easily misdiagnosed.
"I also want to remind people to get insurance on yourself because I never did. In hindsight, I should have done."
Selsey Medical Practice said the thoughts of staff are with Heather and her family 'at this difficult time'.
A spokesperson added: "Due to our professional duty to protect the confidentiality of patients, we are unable to comment further.”