A mum-of-three was told she had breast cancer just weeks after cancelling her wedding due to the coronavirus crisis.

Alison Mills, from West Derby, was due to get married to her partner Rod Clements on September 3, but with restrictions still in place, they decided to postpone the day until next year.

Just over a week later, the couple had her world turned upside down when Alison, 43, woke up in pain and discovered a lump on her right side.

Despite initially being told during a telephone consultation that the lump was just a cyst, she sought a second opinion from her GP and was soon referred to the Linda McCartney Centre.

It was here that Alison was diagnosed with stage 3 breast and lymph node cancer.

As a nurse Rod said Alison, who has worked on the front line in care homes across the country during the coronavirus pandemic, is used to helping others.

Alison has shared her story to raise awareness of breast cancer and to encourage other women to get checked by a doctor if in any doubt.

Partner Rod, 49, told the ECHO: "In lockdown she was working in care homes seeing everything that was going on.

"As lockdown eased a little bit she woke up one morning and said I've not slept. I've got pain in my right side.'

"It felt like a lump."

Rod said the diagnosis "came as a complete shock", as doctors had previously believed that the lump was just a cyst.

Thankfully for Alison, doctors have told her that the cancer is "very treatable" and she is currently undergoing chemotherapy at the Clatterbridge Centre.

Having cancelled their wedding a week earlier, Rod said he believes "everything happens for a reason."

Alison Mills, from West Derby and partner Rod Clements

He said: "They say things happen for a reason. I'm glad in a way that we didn't get married on the 3rd now.

"She wanted to enjoy the run up to the big day. She wouldn't have been able to enjoy any of that."

When Alison was first referred to the Linda McCartney Centre, Rod said: "Even the doctor there said it looks like it's just going to be a cyst.

"We'll do a biopsy and take it from there."

But when the results of the biopsy came back, according to Rod, the doctor apologised, saying: "I'm so sorry I didn't expect for one minute it would be breast cancer."

Rod, who was waiting out in the car with the kids at the time, said it wasn't until they got home that they were able to talk properly about Alison's diagnosis.

They were soon faced with the impossible situation of how to break the news to their three children - Eloise, 10, Nieve, 6, and Noah, 2.

Rod said: "She told them two weeks after finding out.

"She knew she was going to be in and out of hospital and couldn't keep making excuses so we sat them down and told them.

"You think 'Why her? Why did it happen to her?' Especially when she's helped people for years as a nurse and looked after people.

"She's not a bad person, why pick on her? It's difficult to explain but it changes everything.

"She had to stop work with immediate effect. She was vulnerable so she had to shield."

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Rod added: "She said herself 'I'm supposed to be helping people not people helping me.'

"She finds it difficult because she's a nurse."

Shortly after being diagnosed, Alison started chemotherapy at the Clatterbridge Centre.

She has now completed 12 weeks of chemo and has eight weeks to go before she will undergo an operation on her breast and to have all of her lymph nodes removed.

Rod said: "They've said it's very treatable and we'll work towards curable.

"When she first lost her hair it was traumatic for her. She was upset for days because she had to have her hair shaved off."

Rod said staff at the Linda McCartney Centre and the Clatterbridge Centre have been "amazing" in helping Alison during her treatment so far.

He said: "If you ever want to phone and talk to them you can just pick up the phone.

"They have done everything possible for Alison.

"She wants to raise awareness of breast cancer and tell people to examine themselves because she never did and then this lump appeared, and things changed in an instant."

To show his support for Alison and to raise money and awareness for Breast Cancer UK, Rod has arranged a fundraiser on October 23.

On the day he will walk 10 miles, along the length of Queens Drive from Bootle to the Aigburth Arms, dressed entirely in pink.

Rod said: "I've not been able to go to one appointment which is upsetting for me."

"It's a big thing that she's going through and I can't be there.

"I understand the reasons why but myself personally I feel like I'm not doing enough to help her.

"This is a way of showing her my support."

To donate to the fundraising page click here.