A former Senedd member for North Wales has urged people to “check their bits” and go to see their GP despite the pandemic as she begins chemotherapy for breast cancer.
Antoinette Sandbach told the Winsford and Middlewich Guardian that she would be taking time away from the public eye while she undergoes the treatment.
The 51-year-old was elected as a Conservative in Wales in 2011 but resigned in 2015 after being elected as the Member of Parliament for Eddisbury in Cheshire.
She lost the Conservative whip in 2019 over her support for a referendum on the Brexit withdrawal agreement, and stood unsuccessfully at the General Election in December as a Liberal Democrat.
Mum-of-one Antoinette said she will undergo five months of chemotherapy before having an operation and possibly radiotherapy.
“It is not just women that need to check their bits,” she said.
“People have not been going to see their doctor as much as they had done before the pandemic, but we need to stay really alert.
“My lump is really quite big considering it has only been a year since my last check. If anyone has any concerns I would urge them to talk to their GP.
“Like anyone else would be, I am feeling quite nervous about it, but it is just something I will have to face up to and do.
“I am really determined to bounce back from this, and that means changing my diet, dealing with the side effects of my treatment – I am going to lose all of my hair probably.
“It does mean that I will be stepping back from politics for a bit because my course of treatment is quite intensive.
“But I want people to know that I have not stopped engaging with politics because I have stopped being interested in it. I am just going to be concentrating on getting better.”
Antoinette said that she felt the lump in late June, and her GP arranged for her to attend Leighton Hospital for a mammogram and biopsy, which came back positive.
She had been given the all clear from a mammogram in July 2019, so her diagnosis one year later came as a surprise.
“It has obviously been a huge shock,” said Antoinette.
“My lump is quite big – it is 5cm by 3cm – and it is a triple-negative breast cancer, so it is aggressive.
“It has been really difficult for my family. Because I am doing chemo, my immune system will be compromised, so I have to have strict social distancing – and that is quite difficult when you have a teenager.
“I had been looking for a job but my diagnosis makes it impossible as I am going to go through a very intensive period of chemotherapy,” Antoinette added.
“I had been doing some work in the community but it has been tough, although I have enjoyed spending time with my family in lockdown – it is time I have not had over the last eight years.
“I have remained active in politics since the election, working with the Liberal Democrats in Eddisbury trying to hold this Government to account.”