A menopausal mum has thanked her active sex life for saving her life after her husband found a lump in her breast – that turned out to be cancer.
Tina Gray, 52, went through menopause two years ago but was adamant she wasn’t going to give up her sex life with her husband Dez, 51.
The pair made a conscious effort to keep up excitement in the bedroom, making sure their flame didn’t die out.
And when Tina felt something in her breast she was unsure about, she wasn’t taking any chances.
She was sitting on the sofa watching TV one night without a bra on and felt a hard lump just above her nipple on her left breast.
Concerned, she asked Dez to cop a feel of her breast to see if it felt different to usual. And he immediately realised something was wrong.
Tina, from Aldershot, said: It was such a huge shock when we found the lump – you do momentarily find yourself facing your own mortality.
“As soon as Dez felt the lump, he knew something wasn’t right. I trusted his judgement and went straight to a doctor – after all, who would be more familiar with my breasts than my husband?”
She added that their intense intimacy throughout menopause meant Dez was better placed than ever to know if something was different.
“Dez grew very interested in my boobs which has now meant he’s saved my life,” she said.
While she’s incredibly grateful to both the NHS and Macmillan Cancer Support for treating and helping her while she had cancer, she’s especially thankful for Dez who she wants to marry “all over again.”
When Tina first started going through menopause, she found that sex could be uncomfortable or even painful, but she battled through the discomfort.
She said: “It was like I was going through puberty again but in reverse.
“I just had to be open with Dez and communicate how I was feeling instead of pushing him away so he could understand what I was going through.
“It’s not that I didn’t want to have sex with him, it’s just that sometimes I couldn’t because it was uncomfortable or even painful.
“We’re not alone any more, there is plenty of stuff out there that can help couples have a sex life when going through menopause, you just have to look for it!
“Instead of pushing us apart, it just brought us closer. Our sex life didn’t end, we just had to adjust.”
Dez added that Tina’s change in 2020 coincided with coronavirus lockdowns, leaving the couple with a lot on their plate.
“It was like ‘oh, we don’t need that’,” he said.
“We just talked about it, worked through it and it’s all good now!”
Reflecting on how he discovered the lump in his wife’s breast, he said: “We’ve been together a long time so I’m well versed with the geography of Tina’s upper torso.
“I was having a rummage, like you do, and felt concerned that there was something unusual in her breast which we felt we needed to have checked out.
“It was scary, the unknown was frightening. We knew we had to go get it sorted.”
After a consultation, Tina was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer, with the doctor also picking up a smaller lump in her right breast.
On 20 October, she had biopsies taken which revealed she had stage one invasive ductal carcenoma in her right breast and stage three in her left.
Luckily, and thanks to Dez’s discovery, surgeons were able to remove all of the cancer before it had spread around Tina’s body – effectively saving her life.
Tina said: “Going through the menopause and then my cancer battle has just brought Dez and I closer than ever.
“I couldn’t have got through all of this without my supportive family and the Macmillan nurse who was with me for every appointment. Even with a mask on, I could see her eyes were smiling at me and it was such a comfort.”