I was diagnosed with primary breast cancer a couple of days before Christmas in 2011. 

I was 37 and had an 8 year old daughter. I went through a lumpectomy, lymph node removal, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I was then on hormone treatment for a further 5 years. Apart from the debilitating joint pain from the hormone treatment (hence why it was stopped after 5 years) I was in good health with no sign of recurrence and my annual mammograms were always clear. 

As I approached 10 years since my diagnosis, still in really good health and the fittest I had been since a teenager I decided to climb Kilimanjaro as a way of celebrating being out of the woods. So in February 2022 just after my final 10 year mammogram and being discharged from oncology I successfully summited Kilimanjaro. It was the hardest thing that I have ever done (especially summit night), but it gave me the bug to do something similar and I set my sights on Everest Base Camp (ideally before I was 50).

 However 4 months later I started to experience some neurological symptoms and after a visit to my GP was immediately sent to A&E and by the end of the day was diagnosed with a secondary lesion on my brain. Further scans also found a much larger lesion in my lung.

 I can’t describe the devastation, fear and grief that I felt during that time. I had myself gone within a few months! It took several weeks to get a treatment plan, but in the Autumn I started hormone suppression treatment and I went through a partial lung resection and craniotomy. Both surgeries with quite serious risks but I came through them well. In January 2023 in started my Systemic Anti Cancer Treatment and my 3 monthly scans began. My SACT was changed in October due to my liver being very unhappy with it and after a short break I started a different drug. So far my body seems to be “liking” this one better. My 3 monthly scans have continued to be clear, so in January, after a year of clear scans, I took the plunge and decided to book a trekking challenge to Everest Base Camp, within my 3 month scan window. 

Before my secondary diagnosis I was a gym buff, it was my second home. I’m nowhere near as fit as I was when I climbed Kilimanjaro, but the one thing that I have been able to do throughout everything is walk and it’s been my saviour; to get outside, some fresh air and space to clear my head. I’ve not really managed to train for this trek in the sense of getting up hills, it’s been more of a small local hill or incline on the treadmill. So it’s going to take everything that I have in me to get to Base Camp. I may not manage it but I will give it everything that I can and enjoy every minute (some of it may be on reflection). 

I’m raising money for House of Hope as it’s something that I felt was missing for my family and myself during my primary diagnosis and even more so during my secondary diagnosis. I will be frequenting its doors as soon as it is open. 


We are extremely proud of Aileen taking on this challenge in aid of The House of Hope. Not only is Aileen raising funds to help us on the pathway to opening The House of Hope, she is also raising much needed awareness of secondary breast cancer.

Lisa Fleming, Founder