A grandmother from St Albans, whose battle with cancer led her to trace her family tree, is trying to encourage people to get checked for the disease.
Louise Miller, 55, was diagnosed with breast cancer on Christmas Eve in 2002 after finding a lump.
By New Year’s Eve she was told she needed a mastectomy and she began the treatment in January 2003.
Later that year Mrs Miller, along with her husband and four children, celebrated when she was told she had beaten the illness.
However in 2006 she found out that the cancer had spread to other parts of her body.
Although she overcame it again, the cancer returned again in 2009 and 2011.
The mother-of-four, who lives in Heydons Close, said: “I’ve had quite a long history with it.
“At the beginning of last year I wasn’t sure if I was going to survive to see my grandchildren.
“People hear the word cancer and they think you are going to die but I’m living a full and healthy life.
“People who know me wouldn’t know I have cancer.
“I look forward to every day. I don’t let it spoil my enjoyment of life.”
After being diagnosed with the disease for the third time Mrs Miller, who was adopted as a child, decided that she needed to know more about her family’s medical history.
She said: “I had a happy adoption and I had an adoptive mother who I adored but I knew nothing about my birth family.
“When the cancer came back for the third time I thought I should try to find out a little bit more about my background for the sake of my children.
“I didn’t have a desire to meet up with them but I wanted to know my medical records.”
After doing some research Mrs Miller found that her birth mother had died from breast cancer at the age of 50.
On discovering that her mother also suffered from the disease, Mrs Miller has decided to enter into genetic testing for her son and three daughters.
She said: “My message to everyone is that if you discover anything unusual to go and get checked.
“The sooner it is checked then the sooner you can do something about it and continue to live your life.
“There are more people living longer with cancer than there have ever been.
“Cancer has been a part of my story but it doesn’t define who I am.”
During her treatment Mrs Miller turned to Grove House for support and since her recovery, she has started to work as a PR for the hospice.
She said: “The staff there helped me a lot during my treatment. They were amazing.
“It was a very big part of my life.”
Mrs Miller is now working with Breakthrough Breast Cancer to try to raise awareness of the disease.
To support the charity’s Christmas campaign text XMAS to 70300 and donate £3 today.