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Woman Credits Her Dog For Saving Her Life After He Sniffs Out A Lime-Sized Tumor In Her Breast

PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT

A dog lover has praised her pet greyhound for saving her life by sniffing out a lime-sized cancerous tumor in her left breast, which she dubbed Damien – after the boy in The Omen horror film.


Amanda Evans-Nash, 50, who works for British Airways, was lying in bed one morning, when her pooch Jimmy jumped up and started pawing and sniffing at her chest.

Pushing him away, her hand brushed against a lump in her left breast, which she had not previously noticed and resulted in a diagnosis of triple negative breast cancer.

Amanda and greyhound JimmyPA REAL LIFE/COLLECT

Amanda, of Prestwich, Greater Manchester, whose husband, Graham Nash, 53, works for Marks and Spencer, now wants to raise awareness of the condition, saying:

“My cancer was very sizeable, aggressive and already spreading."

“Who knows what the outcome of my story would've been if it wasn't for Jimmy and his persistent sniffing that morning?"

“Now, all I want to do is raise awareness. A lot of people don't even realise that there's more than one type of breast cancer."

Amanda having chemotherapyPA REAL LIFE/COLLECT

She continued:

“Breast cancer charities are already perceived as being over subscribed to, but there's still such a long way to go with research – particularly with the form of the disease I had."

Her experience adds weight to findings of a study by US firm BioScentDx, released earlier this year, which showed that dogs – known to have smell receptors 10,000 times more accurate than humans – could sniff out blood samples from people with cancer with almost 97 per cent accuracy.

Certainly, Amanda swears she was first alerted to her cancer one morning in June 2017 when she was lying in bed with her left arm raised above her head and Jimmy jumped up beside her, before persistently sniffing around her breast and armpit area.

He just wouldn't leave me alone. It was really tickling me, so I reached over with my right hand to gently push him away – and when I did, I felt a lump under my left nipple
Amanda Evans-Nash

She said:

“He just wouldn't leave me alone. It was really tickling me, so I reached over with my right hand to gently push him away – and when I did, I felt a lump under my left nipple."

To her horror, when she examined herself in the mirror, the lump was clearly visible and Amanda immediately began to fear the worst.

First thing the next morning, she saw her GP, who told her it could simply be a cyst, but referred her to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, Scotland, near where she was living at the time.

Amanda and greyhound JimmyPA REAL LIFE/COLLECT

Told it would be around two weeks before she could be seen, she went into work and told her boss, who kindly helped her to call local private hospitals, before landing an appointment that day at 1pm at the BMI Ross Hall Hospital in Glasgow.

“By 6pm I had been diagnosed with breast cancer."

“Graham had been waiting for me in a different room, but when I got the diagnosis. I felt numb."

Amanda with bruising on her breastPA REAL LIFE/COLLECT

Amanda continued:

“I could barely look at him for fear of breaking down. When I came back into the room, he gave me this look as if to say, 'So? Any news?'"

“All I could do was shake my head."

Given an urgent referral back to Ninewells, she then had a biopsy to determine exactly what sort of breast cancer she had and whether it had spread.

After my diagnosis, I cried solidly for about two days, but I have always tried to see the positive, and use humour to get through
Amanda Evans-Nash

The results confirmed she had triple negative invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer, an uncommon form of the disease, the symptoms of which include changes in the size, shape or feel of the breast, dimpling of the skin, a rash on the nipple and surrounding area and swelling in the armpit.

Her main tumor was the lime-sized growth she had originally felt, but another smaller one was also found at the top of her breast and the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes.

“After my diagnosis, I cried solidly for about two days, but I have always tried to see the positive, and use humor to get through."

Amanda and greyhounds Betty, Jimmy and DaisyPA REAL LIFE/COLLECT

“And eventually I realized that sinking into my pajamas and watching Jeremy Kyle all day wasn't going to get me better."

“So, I thought to myself, 'Right, enough crying. Let's beat the b****r.'"

Then, on the way to her first chemotherapy session at Perth Royal Infirmary, about two weeks after her diagnosis, something remarkable happened.

Amanda said:

“My dad Gerry Evans had only died in the October before I was diagnosed, and at his funeral, I read a poem called 'Look for Me In Rainbows.'

“As I drove up to Perth, I saw a huge rainbow overhead – and I've seen one a few times since then before appointments."

“People may say it was just a coincidence, but it was still comforting."

Amanda and JimmyPA REAL LIFE/COLLECT

She said:

“To me, it was Dad watching over, saying, 'You're going to be alright, kid.'"

Just 15 days after beginning chemotherapy, Amanda's hair started falling out so, to regain some control, she shaved her head, rather than enduring the emotional pain of watching it fall out bit by bit.

Then, following 18 weeks of chemotherapy, which ended in November 2017, she had surgery in January 2018.

Amanda and JimmyPA REAL LIFE/COLLECT

As the treatment had shrunk her tumor, she did not need a mastectomy, instead having a wide local excision, where just the lump and some healthy tissue around it was cut away.

Doctors also removed 29 lymph nodes and sent them away to be biopsied, to find out if the cancer had spread any further.

And as she waited for the results, she had six weeks of radiotherapy, which finished in April 2018.

I still have some pain in my breast, because of all the scar tissue, but apart from that and some aching in my joints, which I'm told can be a side-effect of chemo, I feel amazing
Amanda Evans-Nash

Thankfully, Amanda was given the all clear, after results showed her lymph nodes were cancer-free.

“I still have some pain in my breast, because of all the scar tissue, but apart from that and some aching in my joints, which I'm told can be a side-effect of chemo, I feel amazing."

In May, as a way of repaying the “fantastic" care she received and to raise money and awareness, Amanda and some friends took part in Walk the Walk's annual MoonWalk, which sees thousands of men and women take to the streets and walk 26 miles through the night in specially decorated bras.

Amanda with her husband GrahamPA REAL LIFE/COLLECT

“We called our team The Pinky Promises because during treatment, my two little cousins made me pinky promise to be brave, to do what the doctors said and not to cry."

Feeling healthy once more, Amanda is now awaiting her five year all clear mark, after which the risk of her cancer returning will be lowered.

In the meantime, she has vowed to do all she can to encourage others to check their breasts.

Amanda and her mum ElizabethPA REAL LIFE/COLLECT

And she has nothing but praise for the pooch who saved her life.

“It still astonishes me how I could have missed the tumor, but Jimmy found it."

“He's ten years old now, and we got him from a greyhound rescue centre we used to volunteer at. He was always my favorite, so I was delighted to be able to bring him home."

“Now, I want to get people talking. Far too often, people will say they had no idea there were so many types of breast cancer."

Amanda with JimmyPA REAL LIFE/COLLECT

She concluded:

“Triple negative, especially, which is what I had, has a long way to go as far as research is concerned. It is more difficult to treat, as you can't use hormone treatments, and it only makes up around 15 per cent of breast cancer cases, according to Cancer Research UK, so it is relatively rare."

“But the more people talk, the more they will survive."

The MoonWalk London 2020 takes place on Saturday 16 May. To find out more or to sign-up to take part visit www.walkthewalk.org