Friends diagnosed with same cancer take on pairs hunter trial to boost awareness

  • Two friends who were diagnosed with the same type of breast cancer are taking on a pairs hunter trial together to encourage everyone to check themselves.

    Clare Taylor Reeves and Annie Choma (pictured, top) will contest the Warwickshire’s fixture on 6 September.

    They are riding in honour of their friend Leasa Clark, a young mum who has been told her cancer is terminal, and to remind women to check their breasts.

    Clare was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in 2017 after checking her sore shoulder following a nudge from her mare, Frankie. She discovered a lump, which was found to be cancerous.

    In 2019, Annie was also diagnosed with the same type of cancer and mutual friend Mary Hunt, of LandS Eventing, put the pair in contact.

    They won a hotly contested pairs arena eventing class in December, dressed in pink to raise awareness of the disease and how it can affect adults of all ages, and are now taking on a new challenge in the open with their first pairs class on grass next weekend.

    Annie, 30, underwent a double mastectomy early during lockdown, as the crucial timeframe following chemotherapy meant it could not be delayed, and Clare has also been shielding owing to her treatment history.

    The pair want to remind people that the Covid-19 pandemic does not mean cancer has gone away.

    “Annie wanted to do something as soon as she was well enough and then this opportunity came up,” said Clare.

    “We just feel like Covid is making people forget cancer is happening and early detection really can make the difference between life and death. Particularly with triple negative, if you catch it in its early stages, before it spreads to the lymph nodes, your chances of survival are hugely improved.

    “It’s so important to know your body, check your boobs daily — they do change with your menstrual cycle, so get to know what is normal for your body. If you think something is wrong, because it is not always a lump, it could be that the skin looks different, the nipple has become inverted, or a red and hot patch, contact your doctor and get it checked out.

    “It is fairly common for people to say they found the lump in the shower and it is also important to check your boobs while you are lying down — many women have found lumps that way they never knew were there.”

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    Experts are concerned of the impact the pandemic is having on the diagnosis of all cancers.

    While routine breast cancer screening is restarting across the UK, Clare and Annie are too young to have been invited for screening, which is why they want women of all ages to realise this applies to them.

    Clare added they are riding in memory of friends they have lost, those who have been diagnosed with the disease, and to help others spot the signs early.

    “We just don’t want people to forget,” she said. “We are lucky, but others we have gone through treatment with haven’t been.”

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