Playing netball saved my life! Mother takes up exercise and finds cancerous breast lump after losing four stone
Deb Peters took up exercise for the first time in 30 years
Weight loss meant the cancer was detected early and still treatable
Continued to play netball, swim and run while undergoing chemotherapy
14:37 GMT, 8 October 2012
When Deb Peters took up netball, the idea was to get fit and do something for herself.
She never imagined it would end up saving her life.
After embarking on an impressive fitness regimen of netball, running and swimming and losing four stone, the mother-of-four discovered a small lump.
Mrs Peters, 46, from Bristol, decided to get it checked by a doctor – and was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She was told that had she not slimmed down, she would never have spotted the 1cm lump.
Fighting fit: Deb Peters lost four stone playing netball. She then discovered a cancerous lump in her breast that doctors say would have gone undetected had she still been overweight
Mrs Peters had not done much sport since school before suddenly taking the decision to get fit about 18 months ago.
She said: 'I do think everything happens for a reason. What on Earth made me think after 30 years I’m going to get fit
'I didn’t do anything before. But three of the children were at school and didn’t need picking up and dropping off.
Changing habits: Mrs Peters had not exercised in 30 years until she took up netball, running and swimming
'I was a bit bored and thought I would just do something.'
She went to netball, started swimming with her son who had recently left the Army and took up running.
Her consultant explained her out-of-the-blue decision to take up the sport was lucky because it meant her cancer was caught early.
Mrs Peters said: 'When I saw the lump near my armpit I went to the doctor. I'd had lumps before that had been nothing.
'Then everything happened so quickly. You go from not thinking about cancer to meeting the cancer nurse and deciding whether you are going to have a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. It’s really surreal.'
The lump was removed during surgery at St Michael’s Hospital, Bristol, last December.
Mercifully, the cancer had not spread.
Mrs Peters then underwent a month of radiotherapy and will take medication every day for the next five years.
Her consultant told her she was lucky to have lost the weight at such a vital time.
'Apparently I would never have seen the lump before I lost the weight, because it was tiny. I didn’t feel it but spotted it in the mirror when I got out of the shower.
'It was only 1cm big, so I certainly would not have seen it so soon otherwise.'
Now the classroom assistant plays netball, swims more than 800 lengths and runs the equivalent of more than a marathon every week.
She even continued her regimen even when having radiotherapy treatment in March.
She said: 'Apart from the two weeks off after the operation I have done the same thing pretty much every day.
'I wanted cancer to be the smallest part of my life.
'Netball is fantastic because you are doing it with other people from all walks of life and you get a camaraderie you don’t really get on your own with swimming and running.
'I always loved netball at school and I am quite competitive. It’s fun and it’s for everybody. We’ve got teenage girls up to women in their 60s.
'I went back a couple of weeks after my operation and could take it at my own pace.'
'And when I was having treatment it was good to know I was going to see my friends and have a game.'
Mrs Peters has now completed the Bristol Half Marathon and Great North Run with her husband Keith this year.
She has also taken part in the Race for Life twice.
She said: “When I started running everyone laughed but I gradually got more and more into it.
'And then I nagged Keith to come out with me and now we pretty much always run together.'
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.