Self-checking saves lives!
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Self-checking saves lives!
Breast cancer awareness month is a timely reminder of the difference early diagnosis can make.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and Weston Park Cancer Charity is on a mission to get women (and men!) checking and getting the treatment and support they need.
“The hospital is still open and treating patients, routine mammograms are continuing, GPs can still see you if you’re worried about anything,” says Weston Park Cancer Charity CEO, Samantha Dixon, “yet we know that almost a million women across the UK have missed screening appointments this year because of pauses and delays in testing at the start of the pandemic. It’s really important we re-book and go in for checks, and learn to check ourselves regularly. GPs and hospitals are open and able to check, test and treat as usual, so please don’t delay.”
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the UK, with around 50,000 diagnoses each year. It is also treatable – breast cancer survival has doubled in the last 40 years and we continue to make progress. But the best chance of successful treatment is early diagnosis – that’s why checking yourself and taking action immediately if you’re worried, is vital. Weston Park patient Jen knows this well.
“I don’t even know what made me do it. I’m young and healthy…but I just thought one day ‘I wonder if I’d even recognise a lump?’…and so I did my first examination, and it felt fine. Two days later, trying on a bridesmaid dress, I felt a lump. I have no idea if I’d missed it, but it was there, and I called my doctor. Within four days I had an ultrasound and biopsy and by the end of the month I had my diagnosis – grade three breast cancer.”
Jen has completed chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment, and is still undergoing immunotherapy at Weston Park.
“It has just been a whirl of appointments and decisions. At first I thought ‘well, they’ll just remove it and I’ll recover’. Everyday I was there I was so aware of that thin line between curative and terminal cancer. I don’t know what made me check, I’m just so glad I did.”
Jen has also been supported during her treatment by Weston Park Cancer Charity, after she called for support as she completed her radiotherapy. Weekly mindfulness sessions online have meant she has techniques to help her cope with ongoing treatment and stress.
“These are the services we need to deliver, no matter what” says charity director Sam. “The medical professionals are doing their bit, but sometimes the emotional side of cancer is as hard. That’s why the charity’s support services, and the support we get from donors, matters more than ever – we still need to be here for people like Jen, who need information, advice or support services, lockdown or not. Our supporters and donors continue to help us step up to the mark so we’re all still here to help – nobody has to do any of this alone. Just call 0114 553 3330 for our help, information and support.”
- know your body so you will spot changes.
- check the whole breast, under the armpit and up to the collarbone
- look for changes – is your breast a different shape or size, does the skin look different, is there a rash or colour change?
- feel for changes – can you feel a lump, dimpling or puckered skin, or unusual pain and tenderness?
For more information on how to check your breasts, we recommend the NHS guide or Breast Cancer Now’s guide.