Queer mum was diagnosed with cancer after being ignored by doctors

Marie pictured on the left receiving chemotherapy in hospital. On the right, she is pictured standing by a sign on a walk outdoors.

By the time Marie Damor was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019, she was exhausted and burnt out.

Getting a diagnosis wasn’t easy – because of her age, she was repeatedly fobbed off by doctors who told her she wasn’t old enough to have breast cancer.

But she knew in her gut that something was wrong. She had found a lump and was experiencing pain in one of her breasts.

“I knew it was definitely more than just a lump or a cyst,” Marie, who lives in Pembrokeshire, Wales, tells PinkNews.

In the end, she figured she would have to fight to make doctors take her seriously. “I was literally in tears saying, I’m not moving from here until you send me for a mammogram.” 

After tests and multiple biopsies, Marie was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer. She was devastated and angry in equal measure. 

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“I was a single mum with two boys and my world just turned upside down,” Marie recalls. 

“I felt angry, the fact that he wouldn’t listen to me, because I knew there was something.” 

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Marie had to fight for a double mastectomy.
Marie had to fight for a double mastectomy. (Supplied/Breast Cancer Now)

Before long, she was plunged into gruelling rounds of chemotherapy alongside other treatments.

To add insult to injury, when she asked for a double mastectomy, she was forced to see a psychologist.

“On day one I said: ‘I’m not having one boob. I want both of them gone.’ 

“I know that a lot of people, their mental state at this moment in time, they would rather have nothing – but they don’t give you that option. They’ll just palm you off. And that’s why I pushed and pushed and pushed and had to prove that I was not going to sue them in the end.”

She adds: “I didn’t want a reconstruction – I basically never liked them in the first place so they didn’t need to be there.”

After undergoing rigorous treatments, Marie was finally given the all-clear. She still has to go back for scans to make sure the cancer hasn’t returned.

“The scan anxiety is horrible, any sort of pain – you always think it’s going to be there, so mentally you’ve got to keep strong because otherwise you’ll just go downhill.”

Marie survived breast cancer – and built a beautiful blended family

It was a traumatic time for Marie – but it also coincided with a surprising new beginning. Through football coaching, she met her now-wife Nicola. They tied the knot in 2021.

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Marie (R) on her wedding day with wife Nicola (L).
Marie (R) on her wedding day with wife Nicola (L). (Supplied)

“We were both married previously to the opposite sex,” Marie says. “From a young child I was a tomboy, played football, but nothing happened through the years. The thing to do was get married, have children and settle down.”

Both Marie and Nicola had two children from their previous marriages, paving the way for them to build their own big, beautiful blended family.

“They all get on – they’re all best friends and they all look out for each other. We have a massive table and we all sit around each night and have dinner together,” Marie says.

Right now, Marie is cancer free and focused on her family – but she’s not going to rest on her laurels just yet. She’s keenly aware that many others out there will struggle to get a diagnosis for the same reasons she did.

Marie and her wife Nicola pictured with their four children.
Marie and her wife Nicola pictured with their four children. (Supplied)

She also knows just how frightening it is to receive that diagnosis, even when you have to fight for it. 

That’s why she took part in the The Show by Breast Cancer Now on 20 April, a fashion show that centres people who are either living with or who have survived breast cancer.

“The show helps spread the word that everybody’s cancer journey is different. There is light at the end of the tunnel and it gives hope that cancer can be beaten,” Marie says. 

This isn’t Marie’s first time taking part in a fashion show – she previously graced the catwalk in an event that she aptly named “All for T*ts and Giggles” to celebrate the end of her breast cancer journey.

“That was so invigorating for me, so I know what it’s going to feel like on that catwalk for Breast Cancer Now. We’re all going to be nervous going down that catwalk but at the end of it they’ll feel much happier within themselves and probably have more confidence within their own bodies.”

Marie with her wife Nicola.
Marie with her wife Nicola. (Supplied)

Marie also wants to use her fashion show appearance to drive change. In England and Wales, women are invited to get their first mammogram between the ages of 50 and 53 – but that’s not early enough for people like her.

“If you found a lump then I think a mammogram should be open to any age,” she says. “I was 39 when I was diagnosed so it is happening younger and younger.”

Her advice to others who are outside the age bracket but are worried about breast cancer is simple – don’t be afraid to fight for what you need, even when doctors don’t take you seriously.

“If you found a lump and you’re querying it, insist that they have it checked out,” she says.

The Show by Breast Cancer Now is streaming on Facebook.

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