A WOMAN claims she wouldn’t be alive today if her dog hadn’t “sniffed” her breast cancer.
Claire Churchill adopted Jack Russell-chihuahua mix Holly after she was dumped on the doorstep of a shelter on Christmas Day in 2019.
The pair lived happily together for the next six months, but the pup continued to act “weird.”
She was “scratching”, “crying” and “mumbling” to her owner, constantly scratching her chest.
Claire, 36, then noticed she had a lump in her left breast and was subsequently diagnosed with cancer.
She told YorkshireLive: “When I first got Holly I thought she was just weird because she always put her nose in my top.
“As she got bigger towards the summer of 2020, she started scratching my breasts — just my left hand — and started scratching.
“She always fell asleep on my left breast, not the other. It went on and on.”
In August 2020, Holly was close to tears and wouldn’t leave Claire’s left breast alone.
“I thought I had some chips or a cookie in there, but she was really upset,” she said.
Claire said she felt a bump, called her GP, but it wasn’t until October that she was finally seen due to Covid.
“By then it was the size of an orange and you could see it through my bra and top,” she added.
Claire was diagnosed with breast cancer in November and later found out it had spread to her lymph nodes.
She underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy before undergoing a mastectomy in December last year.
Although there is now no evidence of the disease in her body, Claire will have to undergo another mastectomy and hysterectomy because she carries the BRCA gene, so the risk of it returning is higher.
She thanks Holly for being alive.
“If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t have known and I would have died,” said Claire.
“I never checked myself because I thought breast cancer was something that happened to women in their 60s and 70s, not their early 30s.”
Now that she’s safe, Holly has stopped harassing her human.
She said: “It’s like she’s content and happy that the cancer is gone.
“She’s three now and she’s my little angel. I don’t know what I’d do without her.
“I am so grateful and grateful to her. And she’s a rescue – she wasn’t trained to do this, she just knew.
“If you can, get a rescue dog. Not only will you save their life, but they can save yours too.”
What is breast cancer and how does it spread?
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK – one woman is diagnosed every ten minutes.
Although most women can develop breast cancer, it is most common in women over the age of 50.
According to Cancer Research UK, breast cancer starts in the breast tissue.
Breast cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the breast begin to grow and divide uncontrollably, eventually forming a lump.
Most invasive breast cancers are found in the upper and outer quadrant of the breast.
If left undiagnosed and treated, it can travel through the lymph or blood vessels to other parts of the body.
There are about 55,200 new cases of breast cancer in the UK each year.
This equates to about 150 new cases per day.
It also accounts for 15 percent of all new cancer cases each year.
If the cancer is diagnosed at its earliest stage, 98 percent of people will survive the disease for five years or more.
If diagnosed at the last stage, only 26 percent of people survive five years or more.
What are the four stages of breast cancer?
Phase One: The cancer is small and only in the breast tissue – but can also be found in lymph nodes close to the breast.
Phase Two: The cancer is in the breast or nearby lymph nodes or both.
Phase Three: The cancer has spread from the breast to the lymph nodes or skin of the breast or chest wall.
Stage Four: The cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
What are the signs?
- A lump in the breast or armpit
- Changes in nipple positioning
- Leaky nipples in women who have not had children
- Skin changes