JULIE Worsfold is a picture of health. The vibrant 54-year-old from Droitwich appears, to all intense and purposes, to be in her prime. And yet she has a bit of a history when it comes to serious and often complicated health issues.

The wife, mum and foster parent had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy in 1992 which led to life-threatening internal bleeding and she has been through a total of seven miscarriages, plus, most recently a battle with breast cancer.

But each time, she has taken a positive approach to whatever medical condition has arisen and the treatment required.

She is now launching a campaign to alert women to the importance of attending mammogram appointments as that is how her breast cancer was discovered.

Julie was born and brought up in Malvern and eventually met her husband John, now aged 50 and working for the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB).

She always wanted to have a large family but after surviving the ruptured ectopic pregnancy, which resulted in her losing her reproductive organs on one side, she was told her chances of getting pregnant were greatly reduced.

Julie said: “I was 36 and time was not on my side and gynaecology was not on my side.”

She had another three miscarriages and thought she was not going to be able to have children so she asked her husband if they could become foster carers.

“I was doing childminding but John was not keen.” Then in 1998 Julie became pregnant. “I had the most healthy pregnancy and Jemma was born in March 1999. They don’t know how I did it.”

A year after Jemma was born the couple started fostering children and have cared for 30 children since then including sibling groups.

Julie had another three miscarriages until in 2004 she discovered she was pregnant again with twins – Tom and Will who were born in August 2005 weighing 6lbs 14oz and 6lbs 10oz.

With her husband, three children and various foster children (mainly long-term) Julie had the large family she had always wanted – including twins.

“I just adore young people and children. John did not want a large family but over the years our family just grew and grew.

“I am going to keep fostering until I am old and grey. I just love it. It is very challenging and there are some very sad cases at times but it is very rewarding,” she said.

Then last year Julie’s life was once again turned upside down when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Last May I was called for a routine three-yearly mammogram. I had been for one three years before and then recalled because they found a lump which turned out to be a benign cyst.

“I was recalled again after the one last year and I thought it was the cyst again.” Julie went back to the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bromsgrove and had three scans. She eventually went to see the consultant about her results and was told they had found a mass and it was cancer.

Julie was shocked as she regularly examined her breasts for lumps and had not found anything. “I thought breast cancer meant a lump,” she said.

“It turned my life upside down. I went into a black hole of despair. You go through these emotions and it was tough.”

There were a couple of weeks after the diagnosis when she was in a state of emotional turmoil, but Julie said once she had her treatment plan she was able to face what needed to be done.

“From my treatment plan onwards was when the normal Julie came back. I saw chemo as my friend. I thought ‘let’s get it started because I have my life to lead’.”

Julie had a lumpectomy at Kidderminster Hospital and then had a course of chemotherapy at the Rowan Suite at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

She said she felt very tired during the treatment although she was never sick and she decided to use the cold cap during treatment to reduce the chances of her losing her hair. It cools the scalp and reduces the amount of chemotherapy reaching the hair follicles.

“It is so cold, it takes your breath away. It is like a riding hat and you wear it during chemo and for an hour and a half after the treatment. It does not work for everyone,” said Julie.

It did work in Julie’s case and it helped her to keep a normal appearance at home for her children.

She was also offered the drug Herceptin, which she will continue taking until December this year. “It does aggravate joint pain but if that is the only thing it does for me – bring it on.”

Although her treatment was going well and she was beginning to get back to normal, Julie decided to take the unusual and very radical step of having a double mastectomy.

“Between September and December last year I had a deep feeling that the cancer would return in the future. I said I wanted a double mastectomy and although the consultant said I did not need the surgery, they agreed to do the operation.”

She went ahead with the surgery, including implants, 12 weeks ago. “I knew it was going to come back. It was a really deep rooted gut feeling but here I am fighting fit.”

She felt having the operation was like taking out an insurance policy for the future.

Julie has nothing but praise for all the NHS staff who treated her and has become a member of the UK Cancer Support Group.

She said she has talked to other women about her experiences with cancer. “I was saying ‘I am so lucky to be alive. I thought breast cancer was a lump and I am breast cancer aware’.”

She became aware that a lot of women of breast screening age were not attending mammogram appointments because they thought breast cancer meant a lump too.

“I said I have got to do something about this. If I had done the same and not attended my mammogram appointment when I did, I would not be here. Early diagnosis saves lives.”

Julie has now started a one-woman mammogram awareness campaign which has already received local radio and television coverage, and has been featured in a national women’s magazine.

“If I can try and help one woman, all this hard work has paid off. If I can get one woman who had a mammogram appointment letter and was not going to attend to have a mammogram, I have achieved what I set out to do.”

She said figures for the first quarter of this year show that women failed to attend 3,393 mammogram appointments in Worcestershire and Herefordshire.

Julie is also hoping to reach women across the country with her message. “I have got to get out there nationwide. Can you imagine how many women nationwide are not going for mammograms?”

Anyone who wants more information about Julie’s campaign can listen to her interview on local radio by visiting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JzwGS2LV-k or contact her via her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/julie.worsfold.16