Tue, Oct 15th, 2013

Mother, 42, discovers she has advanced breast cancer after son hits her in the chest with a ball while on holiday


  • Karen Cooper was playing ball with son Zac, 15, in Mallorca
  • Went to see her doctor once she was home because the area was still sore
  • Tests revealed a lump and aggressive stage three breast cancer
  • Physical injury can lead to a diagnosis of breast cancer because women inspect the sore area more closely, says Cancer Research UK

A mother discovered she had breast cancer after being hit in the chest by a ball. 

Karen Cooper, 42, suffered the injury as she played with son Zac while on holiday in Mallorca.

She noticed something was awry the next day when applying suncream to the area and it felt sore.

Worried, she saw a doctor as soon as she returned home to Manchester.

She said:’When I went to the doctor, there was a little lump there – but I was told it wouldn’t be anything serious.’

But tests and a biopsy later revealed that she had aggressive stage three cancer, which can be life-threatening.

Mrs Cooper said:’ I just feel so lucky that Zac hit me in the chest with the ball, or I wouldn’t have noticed [the lump]. I didn’t feel ill and wasn’t in any pain.’

She added that Zac, 15, had been worried he had caused the cancer.

The mother-of-two said: ‘At first he thought that he had caused it, so we had to reassure him. He was shocked and upset but we told him that he had found it for me. He saved my life, definitely.’

Cancer Research UK says that physical injury of a breast is unlikely to result in cancer.

Instead, because the area is sore or injured, the breast itself is being examined and followed more closely than usual, and that is why breast cancer is detected, rather than it being due to the actual injury.

Mrs Cooper’s treatment began in September 2010 with six rounds of chemotherapy at The Christie hospital in Manchester, which specialises in cancer treatments.

She then underwent surgery to have the lump from her breast and the surrounding lymph nodes removed.

In April 2011, after 15 sessions of radiotherapy, she was told the cancer was no longer present – and says she is healthy again despite having weaker muscles.

Despite this, she ran a Cancer Research Race for Life this summer.

Just five years before, she had run the same race in aid of a colleague who lost a battle with cancer.

Mrs Cooper said: ‘It felt strange doing it again after my cancer, but it was a great experience and I raised £282.’

She added that living through breast cancer had been a terrifying experience, but that her husband Darren and two children Zac and Kayley, 23, were very supportive.

She said: ‘When it was confirmed I had cancer, I was just so frightened. But I was determined to beat it and I just kept positive.

‘I was also really lucky to have such fantastic friends and family who supported me throughout.’

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