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Cancer fighter Jules Peters hails the man she calls her lifesaver
The wife of Alarm frontman Mike Peters on the surgeon who helped her overcome her ordeal, and how she's trying to help other women who find themselves battling the disease
Jules Peters calls her breast cancer surgeon her ‘lifesaver’, but the name could just as well be used to describe herself.
Since the wife of Alarm frontman Mike Peters was diagnosed with breast cancer on July 4, 2016, her story has inspired thousands of women going through their own battles with the disease and through her gentle urging, women are checking their breasts regularly for the first time.
“I’m speaking to a lot of women who are going through the same thing as me,” said the mum of two, who lives in Dyserth.
“I’ve been down those hospital corridors. I’ve been sat in waiting rooms waiting for results but I’m now at a stage where I’m dancing with my cancer, I’m feeling incredibly empowered.
“Many women who have been diagnosed, contact me through social media, and I often I speak to them at night. I especially seek out those women who are a bit like me, they don’t just go into their shells when given their diagnosis but go out there and embrace it, and are determined to try and keep their femininity.”
She added: “Don’t get me wrong there was nobody more shocked or devastated when I was diagnosed, I was a fit woman. But when I met Mr Khattak my breast cancer consultant for the first time, I trusted him.
“He didn’t make me feel stupid when I told him that if possible I wanted to keep my breast as they are a part of my feminity.
“And because of his skilful surgery I haven’t had to have implants, he did everything possible in his power to preserve them.”
“It’s humans looking after humans, but I feel particularly lucky to have had Mr Khattak, as he gave me the strength and confidence to stay strong, throughout this very gruelling journey.”
Jules continued: “He made no false promises, but made me feel I was in the best hands. My experience of the NHS has been overwhelmingly positive, Mr Khattak has saved my life and his team and I’ll never forget what they have done for me.”
Jules was speaking to the Daily Post at Llandudno Hospital where she had an appointment with Mr Khattak. The 51-year-old had symmetrising surgery just last week, (so that her breasts will match in size), and still faces a couple of more operations. The smallest things can help you feel like yourself again when you’re a cancer survivor, and Jules says she’s looking forward to be getting a three dimensional nipple tattoo, which will be another step to restoring her femininity.
Denbighshire born Mr Ilyas Khattak who carries out around 150 operations a year on cancer patients, insists it is a ‘massive’ team effort.
He smiles when asked if he read Jules’s glowing tribute to him calling him her ‘Super hero’, explaining he doesn’t ‘do’ social media.
The 42-year-old former Rydal Penrhos pupil, whose mother used to work at Llandudno Hospital, admits he not only needs to be skilled in the operating room, but also in his breast cancer clinics, communicating his often understandably emotional patients who are facing the biggest battle of their lives.
“My job is very rewarding,” he says modestly.
“But it is a massive team effort overall, treating breast cancer is a multi-disciplinary affair and there are whole lot of other professionals who take part in the process including our breast cancer nurses are superb.”
Jules underwent two operations at Ysbyty Gwynedd with Mr Khattak which was followed by 18 weeks of chemotherapy, followed by a four-week period of radiation treatment at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd. She famously walked back and forth the ten miles from her home in Dyserth each day.
But now, almost two years after she received the devastating diagnosis, she is living life to the full and tours with The Alarm. The band were in Amsterdam, on the day of the interview, and Jules confided that she was receiving messages from the band asking when she was getting back on the road, as they were missing her.
“The boys do roll their eyes a little if they are waiting for me when I’m on the phone with someone who has been diagnosed, I am talking with lots of women at the moment,” smiled Jules.
“But it’s the least I can do to help, to give something back after all the help Mike and I have had. I’ve been on Mike’s 20-year cancer journey, I’m basically a cancer chick.
“My other lifesaver is of course the director of the BBC documentary “Mike and Jules : While We Still Have Time”, when we were walking down Snowdon after Snowdon Rocks, he was hassling me about checking my breasts, he’d been involved with Breast Cancer Awareness in Cardiff, and I was getting quite annoyed saying that of course I checked them.
“But of course I never did properly, and I still remember laying on the deck at our house, with a beer, looking at the beautiful Welsh countryside, and finding that lump for the first time and asking Mike to feel it, to see if he thought it was one.
“It started a whole new journey for us, but it has changed me for the better.”