Policewoman on continuing the job she loves - despite breast cancer fight

Essex Police officer Becky had a two decade career before being diagnosed with breast cancer

Essex Police officer Becky had a two decade career before being diagnosed with breast cancer. Stock image. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

A woman who was inspired to join the police force after witnessing officers respond to a major plane crash has told how she has continued her career despite debilitating cancer treatment.

Essex officer Becky, who has asked for her last name not to be used, lives in Suffolk and worked in policing for two decades before doctors found a 39mm lump in her in her breast in September 2020 and was diagnosed with a fast-growing cancer.

During her time working as a customer call handler at Stansted Airport, she witnessed how police dealt with the crash of a Korean Air cargo jet in 1999, in which four crew members died, and the hijacking of an Afghan Boeing 727 in 2000 — prompting her to join the force.

However, her lifestyle of 'flying around at a hundred miles per hour, solving crime, locking baddies up and running a household in between', had to change and as a highly respected and hard working officer she was loathe to let cancer get in the way.

After her diagnosis, Becky was put in touch with Macmillan navigator Helen Ayers at West Suffolk Hospital, to help her plan for the future.

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"We spoke for over an hour on that first call, most of which I spent crying and telling her I thought I would die," Becky said.

"The diagnosis had come as a complete shock — despite mentally preparing myself for the worst, it was still horrible to hear the word ‘cancer’.

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"Sitting in the consultant’s room in my mask, I’d instantly assumed that my life, and the career I had built and loved, was over."

However with help from Helen, she was able to begin a working from home arrangement and despite disruption from invasive treatments, she has been able to keep doing the job she loves.

“My boss and colleagues have been so supportive and understanding, and I am able to continue working when I can, without pressure or expectations on the days I have struggled with side effects," she added.

“On the days I haven’t felt great, I can shut off the cancer side of things by getting my teeth into work — that always makes me feel worthwhile.

"You can make such a lot of impact, whether you’re helping victims or catching criminals. I’m really passionate about it.”

Becky has now made it through chemotherapy to destroy the lump, had a lumpectomy to remove any remaining cancerous tissue and after a period of recovery will begin 20 days of radiotherapy.

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