A dog that headbutted a veterinary nurse in the chest and discovered her quickly progressing breast cancer has been credited with saving her life.
When a pet Labrador headbutted Angie Shaw in the chest while she was working at the Garforth Surgery of the Beechwood Veterinary Group, a lump formed on her chest.
She attempted to roll him over on the consult table, unaware that an aggressive tumor was there at the time.
The mother of two went to the doctor when the lump was still painful after a week. The doctor sent her for scans and biopsies, which confirmed she had a rapidly developing form of breast cancer.
Only 13 days after receiving her shocking diagnosis, Angie underwent surgery at St. James's Hospital to remove the tumor, which had grown by two millimeters.
Doctors claimed that given the tumor's location, it would have taken another 10 months to be found if the dog hadn't hit Angie.
Her next mammography wasn't scheduled for another nine months, at which point the aggressive grade three cancer would be too severe to save her life.
Now Cancer-Free Angie Owes Her Life To A Dog
Angie said: “The lump was purely coincidental and had nothing to do with the cancer.
But if the pet hadn’t head-butted me, the cancer wouldn’t have shown up for nine to ten months, by which point it would have spread.
It would have been too late. That pet saved my life.
When we turned him over, he headbutted me by my left breast, towards my breastbone.
A decent-sized lump appeared. I left it for a week, but it was sore, so I got a doctor’s appointment the next day.
I thought it was a cyst. When I was told that I would have to have surgery, chemotherapy, and then radiotherapy, my whole world fell apart.”
Since then, the veterinary nurse has undergone six rounds of chemotherapy over 18 weeks, followed by 15 doses of radiotherapy, which concluded in December 2022.
She has completed her therapy and is now cancer-free.
Angie is now urging others to check for lumps, noting that ‘early diagnosis is so important.’
Angie said: “I thought if I could save one person’s life by encouraging them to get lumps checked, that’s my job done.
Breast cancer is almost a taboo subject, but it is nothing to be ashamed of.
There’s nothing I have done to cause it. There’s nothing I could have done to prevent it.
I am lucky–because we found it in time. I lost some of my hair during the chemotherapy. It is a small price to pay.”
Angie, who became a veterinary nurse in 2011, said she remained ‘positive’ throughout her diagnosis as ‘everyone thinks a cancer diagnosis is the death warrant.’
She added: “I thought, ‘I have too much to do to let it get in the way of my life.’
An experience like that gives you a whole different perspective.
You realize how special life is and how quickly it can turn around. I have been given a second chance.
You learn to make the most of who and what is important to you.”
Angie's clinical director at Beechwood Vets, Louise Mallinson, defined her as an “incredibly brave” lady.
She said: “The way Angie tackled her cancer diagnosis and treatment has been absolutely inspirational.
Angie is fantastic with both our patients and clients, and we’re very lucky to have her as part of the team.
We are all incredibly proud of her and couldn’t be happier that she has been given the all-clear.”