FORMER Dancing On Ice pro Frankie Poultney has revealed she suffered a breast cancer scare and credits her husband, ex England goalie David Seaman, as her “rock”.
The TV star, who turned 50 this month, spoke for the first time about her fears over the illness.
She also wants to prompt others to check their breasts.
Frankie, who lives with David in Berkshire, was alarmed when she discovered a lump in her right breast in January.
It came eight years after she had an operation to remove a lump on the same breast, which turned out to be benign.
Frankie, who appeared with David on ITV’s The Masked Dancer as Pillar And Post last year, said: “It’s always quite terrifying to find a lump anywhere on your body. I am good at regularly checking for lumps on my breast.
“This time I initially thought it was an ingrown hair as it was further round, in the armpit area. But it became quite hard and obvious and was pulling my skin, sort of puckering it in that area, so I phoned my GP right away to get it checked. They referred me to the breast clinic at the local hospital.
“I’m a really practical person, so my first thought was, ‘What’s my plan of action here? Don’t panic. Let’s get it looked at so we know what we’re dealing with’.
“It was scary. The second time around is less of a shock, I suppose, but more of a worry, because my first thought was, ‘Oh no — maybe the first one was just a warning.’
‘I was really nervous’
“I’m not really a ‘living on a prayer’ type of person. I think it is important to take the initiative in your health and lifestyle choices, so as soon as I detected each lump I was straight on the phone making my appointment.”
After being referred to a specialist, Frankie was given the good news that it was a non-cancerous cyst.
She said: “I was really nervous this time around that I would have to have surgery again, so it’s been a huge relief to find out this second lump is just a cyst which doesn’t require treatment.
“My first lump turned out to be a fibroadenoma, sometimes referred to as a breast mouse, because when you press on them they can move around. However, this wasn’t confirmed until it had been removed and thoroughly examined, so I had to wait a little while after the surgery to find out that it was, thankfully, benign.
“It was a huge relief to learn it was not cancerous and hadn’t spread — that made the whole process of healing from the surgery a lot less stressful.”
Frankie credits David, who she married in 2015 after they fell in love having been partnered on the skating show in 2008, for supporting her through the ordeal.
She said: “My husband is always incredibly supportive. He’s the first person I turn to if I need help or advice and he’s always with me.
“He is a huge source of comfort and rock-solid support in times of crisis. He doesn’t try to sugar-coat anything or pretend to understand how I’m feeling. He just listens and provides excellent hugs.”
After a career in ice-skating Frankie’s body has taken a lifetime of cuts and bruises, so she is not phased by having a scar on her breast.
She said: “I have so many scars from my time on the ice that one more wouldn’t have made much difference. I wear them with pride.
“I worked really hard to get some of those scars and they don’t bother me at all.
“I’m not scarred from the first lump removal, I can barely see the scar on my breast as it’s right by the areola, so not obvious at all.”
Frankie’s experience has put her off taking hormone replacement therapy in the future as a treatment for menopause symptoms, due to it being associated with a small increase in the risk of breast cancer.
However, research shows the risk is linked to how long someone is on HRT and falls when they stop taking it.
NHS guidance states there is little or no change in the risk of breast cancer if you take oestrogen-only HRT and only a small increase with combined HRT.
She said: “Finding these lumps on my breasts has shaped David and my conversations about me potentially taking HRT in the future.
There’s so much information regarding the small increase in breast cancer risk.
“I’ve had consultations around HRT and many, many conversations with women who are both for and against it, including women in their 80s who are still taking it very successfully.
“However, I think having had breast lumps I am more mindful about whether I really need HRT or not.
“I’m 50 and doing OK without it for the moment. I sleep badly, and I have brain fog and night sweats, but they’re not awful so I’m probably doing better than some who really struggle with menopause symptoms.
“For now I’m just focusing on resting when I need to and trying to find a balance between all the work I do and enjoying my downtime. I’m lucky I have great friends and family around me, so I don’t have too far to go to find something to smile about.”
Frankie has found animal therapy an effective remedy for stress and anxiety surrounding her health issues.
She said: “I also foster pregnant cats and kittens and they are a constant source of joy and relaxation. I don’t feel the need to add unnecessary stress to my life by worrying about every bite of food or every time I want to have a drink and let my hair down. I’ve just turned 50 and I want to enjoy life.”
Frankie wants to encourage other women to get their breasts checked.
She said: “I knew what finding a lump could mean and I feel as though I’ve dodged a very big bullet. However, breast cancer survival rates are much better with early detection, so please check your breasts regularly and get any lumps you find examined immediately.
“A breast lump isn’t always cancer, which I think is a really important message for people to hear, especially people who might feel so scared of a lump that they would rather ignore it.
“Just check yourself regularly and see your doctor if you notice any changes.
“I feel it’s better to take actionable control and get on with the practicalities of receiving good or bad news, rather than living in your head and just wishing the lumps away.”