How injury at hula hoop class led to cancer find

Janet Brodie will participate in Sunday's Race for Life. Picture: contributed
Janet Brodie will participate in Sunday's Race for Life. Picture: contributed
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A WOMAN discovered she had breast cancer – while attending a keep-fit hula hoop class.

Janet Brodie, from Portobello, was hit with persistent pain after spending an evening hula hooping in Craigentinny a year ago.

Doctors repeatedly told her they believed the injury had been caused by the weighted plastic tube but the discomfort persisted.

She became more concerned after learning that pain could be a symptom of breast cancer through a TV campaign starring actress Elaine C Smith, and the 53-year-old was finally referred to specialists.

She said: “I was trying to keep fit and thought I’d try out this hula hoop class. They’re weighted and it hit me in the chest. I remember saying to my friend afterwards that I felt really sore, I’d been a few times and I’d never experienced that. I thought I’d just torn a muscle and never gave it a thought, but it became nagging and constant.”

Janet said she visited her GP five times between June last year and October before she was finally sent on the oncology department at the Western General Hospital for tests.

Just weeks later she was told that she had breast cancer but after enduring months of gruelling chemotherapy and surgery to remove lymph nodes, she has been told that there is no trace of the disease.

She is preparing to go through radiotherapy next month but is to take part in the Cancer Research Race for Life on Sunday as part of a team of nine, including her 82-year-old mum, Molly. Janet spoke out today in a bid to get more people to sign up ahead of tonight’s registration deadline.

Janet, who works as an accounts clerk for Blackrock International in Torphichen Street, added: “I’m lucky I did get the symptoms, it was a good thing. That hula hoop could have saved my life.

“I was gobsmacked to be told I had cancer, it was like it was happening to someone else. I was stepping completely into the unknown.

“But the Western was absolutely fabulous. I feel extremely lucky to live in Edinburgh and have that hospital there. Chemotherapy was tough, I lost my hair so you’re dealing with that as well as the physical reaction.

“But all the way through I felt positive. Although cancer is the worst thing to imagine, I feel quite blessed because I’ve been so well supported. It’s a shame it’s taken something like this, but it’s made me appreciate life much more.”

As well as her mother, Janet’s team in the Race for Life will include her sister, two nieces, friends and their children. Her fiancé, Max, will cheer her on from the sidelines. Janet said that she had set herself the target of participating in the event when she was diagnosed in November.

A spokeswoman for the event said: “Janet’s story is inspirational.”

More than 5000 have signed up for the weekend’s non-competitive races, but organisers said there is still space. To enter, visit or call 0845 600 6050.