VAL Cox was diagnosed with breast cancer just months after being given the all-clear in a regular screening.

It was exactly the same thing that had happened to her mother 26 years before.

And it was only a lack of medical records following a move to a different county that meant the potentially fatal condition was picked up.

The hairdresser, who lives near Highworth, had a clear mammogram before moving to Gloucestershire. Less than a year later she was called for a screening by her new health authority. “I went and they didn’t have my records so it was like a clean sheet.”

She wasn’t worried when she was called back, thinking the medics were just being careful because they didn’t know her history. But it was to tell her they had found something.

“I was little bit in shock,” she said. A biopsy confirmed it was cancer. “The first thing I wanted to do was go and get a drink, having not had a drink for five years.”

Telling her family was difficult. “My mum actually took it really well. She had gone through it.”

But the toughest job was breaking the news to her son Dominic. She was very worried about how he would deal with it. “He was in the sixth form and he had A levels lurking. I was very concerned about him,” she said.

In the end her fears were groundless. “He took it quite matter of factly,” she said. “He was probably the worst person to tell because I just knew that his world revolved around me.”

Val had gone through a difficult divorce and as a result, she and her only child were particularly close.

The teenager was also able to talk to friends and found their support invaluable. Recently he was able to pay it forward by offering support to one who lost his mother to the disease.

Following the diagnosis in April 2015, she underwent radiotherapy. The three small marks on her breast indicating where the beams were aimed will remain – a permanent reminder of her brush with the disease.

“The worst thing was the psychological effect. It was awful. It sent me into a bit of a downward spiral.” But she fought it. “I think it was a case of getting on with it and trying to be strong for everybody else. I carried on as best I could but I felt guilty that I was putting family and friends through it.”

“I could see that they were feeling absolutely dreadful about it all and they couldn’t do enough for me,” she said.“It changes your life. It changes the way you look at things completely.”

Val, 58, has had clear scans since the treatment, but still suffers anxiety. Luckily she is part of a group of women who have been through the same experience. “I have a shared bond with them. I’ve also been able to support others, which is quite satisfying.”

She wants women to make sure they go for their mammograms. “It is painful but it’s only for a few minutes and you only have one life – it is not a practice run.”