'I'm making memories for my family as my cancer is incurable' - Mum's shock aged 37

Tiffany Ryan is campaigning for the age for preventative mammograms to be lowered to 40 <i>(Image: Tiffany Ryan)</i>
Tiffany Ryan is campaigning for the age for preventative mammograms to be lowered to 40 (Image: Tiffany Ryan)

A mother with incurable cancer has embarked on a campaign to try and save more lives from the disease.

Tiffany Ryan, from Worthing, was diagnosed with breast cancer the same week she turned 37 in April last year after she found a “knot” in her collarbone which became hot and itchy.

The mum of two went through six sessions of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a mastectomy but in January she was given the devastating news that her cancer was untreatable.

“I dismissed it at first because I thought it’s not the breast it’s the collar bone, it’s probably a muscular knot,” she said.

“But then it started to feel very hot under the skin and very itchy.

“I got to a point where I couldn’t stop scratching.

“I went to the GP and was referred for a mammogram, ultrasound and a biopsy.

“I was expecting it to be a cyst.

“But I was told it was breast cancer.

“I thought no you’ve got it wrong, I’m 37 I’m too young for breast cancer.

“It was in the lymph nodes, there were spots in the lungs, which they thought chemo would blast away.

“I was meant to have eight sessions, but I ended up having six because the chemo made me so ill.

“I got told on the 5th of January that the cancer had spread to both lungs and possibly the bone.

“It’s inoperable because it’s on the lungs.

“The only thing they can give me is a chemo in tablet form, Ribociclib.

“Just to slow it down, that’s all they can do, at 37-years-old.

“On the chemo ward it’s mainly women in their 50s and 60s.

“Their children are fully grown and mine aren’t.

“I’m on the school runs trying to see to them.

“My oldest is on the autistic spectrum as well which makes it harder.”

Ms Ryan, who was a carer for her eight-year-old son and has a three year old daughter, is now trying to plan for when she is no longer with her family.

She has launched a fundraiser to help her and her husband, who she has been with for 11 years, make memories.

The Argus: Tiffany was diagnosed shortly after turning 37
The Argus: Tiffany was diagnosed shortly after turning 37

Tiffany was diagnosed shortly after turning 37 (Image: Tiffany Ryan)

She is also campaigning to see the age for preventative mammogram screenings lowered from 50 to 40 and for men who have a history of breast cancer in their family to be called forward for screenings.

“I’m just trying to deal with the things I can control,” she said.

“I can raise awareness; I can look at planning a holiday even if it’s our last holiday I want to plan something.

“Different little adventures, even if they’re day trips.

“I’m trying to get things into place for the children for when I’m not here.

“Because at 37 you’ve not had the time to do things like pay off your mortgage or pay for a funeral plan.

“When you’re on borrowed time you’re trying to compress maybe 15/20 years of memories into two years.

“I’m going to do things like memory boxes and birthday cards for each year with spritz of my perfume and little tokens in.”

Ms Ryan has joined with Depher UK, The Grumpy Gits Show and Disability Expo to put on a range of events, including a celebrity football match, a three-peak challenge, a race for life and much more to raise awareness of her message.

“I was surprised that mammograms aren’t offered to women until they’re 50 because that’s quite late, especially if you come from a history of breast cancer,” she said.

“If a screening was offered at 40, if it was caught sooner, it would be treatable.

“There are also no screenings for men even though they have breast tissue.

“I’m just trying to speak to as many charities as possible to get the word out.

“I wouldn’t have had a screening for another 13 years.

“It puts it into perspective.

“I won’t be here then.

“50 is too late.”