- Created on Tuesday, 27 August 2013 00:48
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A mother of two has told how her dog alerted her to her cancer by head-butting her in the spot where a tumour was growing.
Fiona Cole went to her doctor only after cocker spaniel Daisy had been pestering her for weeks, sniffing and nuzzling her breast.
Fiona, 41, said: “Daisy is my guardian angel. I have no doubt I owe her my life. Somehow she knew I had cancer even before I did.”
Fiona, a holistic therapist and mother to May, 15, and Eleanor, 13, said: “She started acting strangely, sniffing and nudging with her nose the underside of my left breast.
“I ignored her for three weeks. Then one night when I was sat on the sofa she jumped up and head-butted it. I remember saying: “Ow, Daisy, be careful!” but she wouldn’t stop. It was only when I checked the next morning as I thought Daisy had given me a bruise, then my husband Conrad and I realized to our horror there was a gobstopper-sized lump.”
Fiona, from Quinton, West Mids, was sent by her GP to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham for tests last August.
Two days later she was diagnosed with an aggressive HER2-positive breast cancer which had spread to her lymph nodes. She was told it had been caught it in the nick of time.
Fiona had chemotherapy followed by surgery and radiotherapy to remove the tumour. She also took part in a revolutionary “breath-holding technology” trial, a UK first. Dr Michael Parkes, the physiologist who developed the technique, said: “It takes around two minutes to deliver a dose of radiotherapy.
“Most people can only hold their breath for about 20 seconds, which means doctors are trying to treat a moving target. To guarantee hitting the target tumour, a margin of healthy tissue is also affected.”
For the clinical trial Fiona used a ventilator which boosts oxygen levels and reduces carbon dioxide, a technique which enables a patient to hold their breath safely for up to six minutes.
Nearly 50,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the UK and just under 12,000 die, according to Cancer Research.