After discovering that her breasts were bulging, she was diagnosed with cancer. A self-professed “gym hater” claims that working out helped save her life.

Sarah Bailey, Brooklands, Greater Manchester, was lifting weights at the beginning of November 2020. She suddenly felt a shooting pain in one side.

The 35-year old woman, who was in severe pain, let go of the excess weight. She then felt her breasts and found a large lump the size of a golf ball.

Leon Jeffrey, 38-year-old boyfriend of the personal injury specialist, was informed by her about her discovery. Leon fled to his car from the gym.

Sarah’s GP visited her twice and she was referred to a breast clinic. Sarah was shocked to learn that Sarah had HER-2-positive and DCIS breast cancer.

Sarah completed her final chemotherapy session at the beginning of November. She is now sharing her experience to remind others that they should regularly examine themselves for unusual symptoms and to seek help when necessary. 

'Gym hater' Sarah pre-surgery working out at her local gym

During chemotherapy, she started losing her hair and started wearing a wig

Left: Sarah in pre-surgery at the local gym when she noticed a lump in her breast. Right: She wore a wig while undergoing chemotherapy to hide the fact she was losing hair.

Sarah on the day of her surgery to get the golf ball-sized lump out of her breast she discovered while working out in the gym

Sarah, on the day before her operation to remove the large lump that was the size of a golf ball in her breast.

Sarah stated, “Going to the gym saved my life.

I hate the gym. It’s too much to think about.

“I did a…” [chest-supported]The lateral pulldown is an exercise that requires you to lean forward on your chest.

“As I was going to lose weight, I felt this terrible shooting pain in my right arm.


Some breast cancers contain too many levels of the protein receptor HER2 (“human epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2)) on their cells’ surface. 

This is called HER2-positive (breast cancer). This extra HER2 protein helps the cancer cells divide and grow. 

Between 15-20% of all 100 women diagnosed with breast cancer (between 15% and 20%) are HER2-positive. HER2-positive breast carcinoma can be treated with targeted therapies drugs. 

These proteins bind to the HER2 protein, stopping cells from dividing or growing. Information from Macmillan Cancer Support

“I lost weight, and it must have been quite loud. My gym was empty, no one was there so I went outside and had a look around. It felt like a golf ball.

“I panicked. I completed my gym session right there, then told my boyfriend, and ran to my car.

“I called my friend, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019, and sat down in the car. “She told me it was very scary and recommended that I get it checked.

Sarah made an appointment with her physician and was referred to Wythenshawe hospital in Wythenshawe by her general practitioner.

She was seen by a doctor, who said that there wasn’t anything to be concerned and it was most likely a cyst. After that she was referred for an ultrasonography scan which didn’t reveal any concerns.

The final hurdle: the 35-year-old ringing the bell to mark the end of her chemotherapy treatment

Final hurdle: The 35-year old ringing the bell at the end of her chemotherapy. 

Sarah stated, “I asked for a GP appointment. Within days I was seen. She took the matter seriously and referred my to Wythenshawe Nightingale Hospital.

“I had my cyst removed by the doctor.

“I was then referred to an ultrasound by a female sonographer. She was very friendly and inquired if I was worried.

“Yes,” I said. Then she began laughing in a kind, comforting way and replied, “I cannot see anything here.”

A self-professed 'gym hater', Sarah is grateful that working out saved her life. 'I dropped the weight and I must have made a noise. The gym was dead, there was no-one in there, so I had a feel round and felt this really obvious lump - it felt like a golf ball. I panicked and finished my gym session there and then, told my boyfriend and ran to the car,' she said

Sarah was a self-confessed “gym hater” and is glad that exercise saved her life. I lost the weight. My gym was empty, and there wasn’t anyone in it. I felt a lump, almost like a golfball, as the gym was closed. She said that I was panicking and she finished my session.

Despite nothing ominous being discovered right away during her examination, she continued to suffer with shooting pains in her breast and believed the lump was growing until she went back to her doctors again in March 2021

Even though nothing suspicious was discovered during her exam, the woman continued to experience shooting breast pains and thought that it was growing.

“Thank God for that” was my response. It wasn’t clear what they meant, but I didn’t know. So off I went.

Sarah stated that she still felt shooting pains throughout her breasts, even though nothing was found to be concerning during her exam. She believed the lump was growing.

After recognizing something wasn’t right, she went back to her doctor in March 2021. She received another hospital appointment April 23.

Sarah stated, “After the appointment, it was Christmas time. So I enjoyed Christmas. But, the pain was still there, and my lump was growing.”

‘At my best friend’s birthday, I was able to tell her that the lump was still present. I felt the lump and my friend said that she could feel it.

'After the appointment it was around Christmas time so I just enjoyed my Christmas but the pain was still there and the lump in my opinion was growing,' Sarah said. She's pictured here around Christmas

Sarah stated that although it was Christmas Eve, the appointment was just before Christmas. She said she enjoyed her Christmas and was happy to forget about the pain. However, the lump was still growing in my stomach. Here she is around Christmas.

It felt more severe and was still very painful. The pain became even more apparent, and I could see it from my bed.

“I tried to get this under control, but my gut was telling me that I needed to see a doctor.

“I was so grateful for that referral and ended up scheduling an appointment.

He seemed a little abrupt, and basically stated, “You cannot keep coming back. You need to believe us.” You are fine.

“He felt me again, and he just said the same thing. We’ll send you to an ultrasound since that’s a normal procedure.”

“I had my sonogram done by a different technician when I went to have it done.

Sarah was referred back to the same doctor, who had told her that she can't keep coming back and that she needs to trust the hospitals

Sarah was then referred back by the same doctor. He had previously told Sarah she could not keep going back and advised her to trust the hospitals. 

Just five days after her sonograph, she was invited to a follow-up appointment and was told the devastating news that she had cancer

Five days later, her sonograph was taken. She was then invited for a follow up appointment. There she received the terrible news that she had breast cancer.

“He became really silent and I realized that something was wrong.

“He went out of the room, and came back in the room to tell me that he would be doing biopsies.

She was informed that her cancer had spread five days later.

Sarah shared that she was anxious to wait for her follow-up appointment.

“While I was in the hospital’s waiting area, I remembered a couple coming out. The man comforted his partner while he was still crying.

Sarah pictured with her boyfriend Leon who she says was a tremendous support to her during treatment for breast cancer

Sarah with Leon, her boyfriend. He she said was a great support for her while she was fighting breast cancer.  

“I just looked at Leon, and he pulled a face to tell me that this wasn’t okay.” 

“When I went in the doctor presented the nurse as my breast nurse.

“I cannot describe the feelings I had. It was terrible, and it was truly heartbreaking.

“I was shocked. I didn’t think this could happen to me. It was so hard to stop crying.

“I glanced over at Leon, and he was in complete shock. It was so surreal.

“I thought, “Somebody wake me up! This has to be a nightmare!” The shock, anger and embarrassment I felt was so overwhelming that it seemed like I was being fucked off.

On August 16, she underwent the first of six gruelling rounds of chemo, completing it on November 30. Sarah started wearing a wig while undergoing her treatments

Her first round of six intense rounds of chemotherapy was performed on August 16th. She completed it November 30. Sarah wore a wig during her treatment. 

Throughout the cancer treatment, Sarah said that her boyfriend had been a huge throughout the process and that he went to nearly every appointment he could with her

Sarah shared that her boyfriend was a great support throughout her cancer treatment and went to almost every appointment with her.

Sarah was diagnosed with DCIS (ductal carcinoma intramuscular) in early stages. The doctor explained gently that because of its size, she would need to have a mastectomy.

Sarah was able to have the 10-cm-long mass removed by Wythenshawe Hospital in a marathon six-hour procedure on June 18.

Doctors discovered 7 to 8 smaller tumors that measured less than 0.25cm and were positive for HER2 while performing surgery.

Sarah went through the first six rounds of intense chemotherapy on August 16. She was discharged on November 30, 2013.


Ductal carcinoma (DCIS), the earliest form of breast tumor, is most prevalent. Although it is life-threatening, treatment should be done. 

DCIS means that the cancer cells in DCIS are contained entirely within the lobules and ducts. 

These cells are not able to penetrate the walls of the lobules and ducts nor have they gotten into the breast tissue. 

The reason is that the cells cannot yet invade other tissues.

Sarah shared that Leon her boyfriend has been an incredible support throughout the diagnosis and treatment.

Sarah shared the following: “Leon helped me all through my life and has been there for almost every appointment I could make.”

“He took me, picked me up after chemo, and was there for me all the way.”

Sarah completed six rounds chemotherapy. She proudly rang the bell at the conclusion of treatment Tuesday. [Nov 30].

The doctor will keep her under close observation and she will receive hormone therapy for five to ten more years.

Sarah now encourages people to do regular self-examinations, and to’mither’ the doctor if there are any unusualities.

Sarah explained that she would recommend checking your blood regularly. Any unusual, small change or discharge from your nipple you should inform the doctor.

“100%” Get checked because it is so common in women.

One in two people develop cancer. If you do notice anything different, don’t ignore it.

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust spokeswoman said, “We would like to apologize to Sarah for the experiences she had.” Our Patient Advice and Liaison Service would be happy to discuss her concerns and help her make informed decisions.