Brave mum urges people to “check, check and check again” for warning signs after cancer fight
18:07 19 April 2014
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A brave mother-of-three who lost both parents to cancer before being diagnosed with the disease herself has urged people to “check, check and check again” to spot any warning signs.
39-year-old Dawn Evans had lost both parents to bowel cancer within weeks of each other last year when she discovered a lump in her breast in December.
Now she and husband Richard - who met through the EDP’s lonely hearts column 20 years ago - want to stress how important is to check for anything unusual.
The couple will celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary this summer by renewing their vows at the Best Western Brook Hotel in Norwich, but their story only began after some encouragement from their friends.
Harlow-born Richard said: “I spent a lot of time round my friend’s house and his wife put an advert in the EDP on my behalf – I think she was getting fed up with me! I got a few calls and one of them was Dawn.
“The rest is history. I think you just know – we knew straight away.”
Their first date was a drink at the Maid Marian - where Mrs Evans worked at the time - and a night out on the town.
Just six months later, they were engaged and quickly married at the Stoke Holy Cross church.
But when asked to describe the day, the couple answered in unison - “basic”.
“It was what we could afford – nice, but small,” Richard said. “It’s partly why we want to renew our vows again now.”
The couple lived in Harleston and Lenwade before setting up home in Long Stratton with their three children, Jordan, 13, Courtney, 15, and Lucy, 18.
It wasn’t until December that Mrs Evans noticed something abnormal.
“I felt a lump, but because I was going through everything with my mum I didn’t focus on it at first,” she said.
Their GP explained that the lump was a cyst but, still concerned, the couple went after a second opinion.
They were referred to hospital, where tests confirmed the bad news.
Mrs Evans said: “I took it quite calmly – I just thought ‘I can get through this’. Richard didn’t react how I did – he felt like his world had dropped from under him.
“The kids were quite shocked, as they have had a lot to take with it all. But if anything, having them there took my mind off it.”
Within a few days of being diagnosed, Mrs Evans was rushed into hospital for corrective surgery. She will now undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy until June when doctors have high hopes that there will be good news.
Despite putting on a brave face, Mrs Evans described her frame of mind as “mushed”.
Mr Evans added: “You have to just try and make the best out of a bad thing, but you don’t realise how much of an impact it has on your life.”
That mindset encouraged the couple push ahead with plans to renew their vows – a way of marking their anniversary and heralding a “fresh start”.
Mrs Evans said: “Things like this do really make you sit up and notice. This is a very personal journey for me – and although the day will be about our wedding vows, it will also be about the journey.”
Until then, the couple are focusing their efforts on raising funds for Cancer Research and increasing awareness about thorough checking.
The busy mum said that being aware of changes in your body could save lives. She added: “My lump was aggressive – if I had waited then this could be totally different.
“It takes two minutes to check – do it in the shower or in the bath. It could make all the difference – you know when something is wrong. With the internet we have no excuse to not look.”
To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/dawn-evans6 and for more information on what to look out for, vist www.nhs.uk
Do you have a fundraising story? Contact lauren Cope on firstname.lastname@example.org