Cancer patient asks women to get checked
A PENSIONER who underwent surgery and treatment for breast cancer at Altnagelvin and is now set to embark on radiotherapy treatment has urged local women irrespective of age to be “Be Breast Aware” during October for breast cancer awareness month.
Mrs Marie Bell is 67 years old and from Ballycastle. Marie was diagnosed with breast cancer as a result of a routine Mammogram screening which was carried out at the mobile screening unit at Coleraine Hospital.
She was then recalled and began surgery and treatment at Altnagelvin Hospital. Having just finished her chemotherapy Marie is about to embark on radiotherapy treatment.
She says for the sake of your future health do not miss screening appointments no matter how inconvenient. If you genuinely cannot attend, reschedule immediately.
“I had no lump and no reason to be concerned about my breast and if my diagnosis had been delayed it would be a lot more serious and my future health seriously at risk,” she said.
“People have said to me since my diagnosis that their attitude towards the seriousness of attending for breast screening has changed. I would say do not wait until you hear that someone you know has had a close call – take control and make the best decision for your own health.
“Attend your breast screening with enthusiasm when you’re asked too.”
Mrs Sinead Maguire is 38 years old and from Enniskillen. Sinead attended the Breast Clinic at Altnagelvin after being referred by her GP with a four week history of a lump in her right breast.
Sinead found the lump herself after watching a television programme which was demonstrating how to carry out a breast check and when she followed the steps she found a lump and contacted her GP straight away.
After Sinead underwent a biopsy at the clinic she had surgery to remove the lump and was then informed that the lump removed was benign.
She said: “It really was a shock. One moment I was watching television and trying the steps to check my breast as was being instructed and the next I was feeling a lump - which I had never noticed before.
“Now being out the other side and knowing my lump was benign it makes me want to say to all women - don’t put it off. The services out there are excellent but they can only do so much – women as individuals must take responsibility to check their breast regularly.
“After I found the lump and went to see my GP I was referred and seen within two weeks at Altnagelvin and received a clear explanation of how my care would be managed.”
She concluded: “It can save a life - if you find a lump early on it can only help and prevent a more intensive treatment being necessary later on. It’s not always bad news. In my case I was motivated to check in a moment, but we as women should know to check regularly and monitor changes - no matter what age we should all check.”
Dorothy McFaul, Western Trust Superintendent Radiographer at Altnagelvin’s Breast Screening Unit added: “In the early stages breast cancer may not have symptoms for example a palpable lump. This is why the government introduced the NHS breast screening programme, which invites women aged 50-70years to attend for a screening mammogram every three years.
She continued: “A mammogram is an X-ray of the breasts which can detect breast cancer at an early stage in women of this age group. Women over the age of 70 will not receive an automatic invitation but are still entitled to free breast screening under the NHS. They simply need to ring the breast screening unit at Altnagelvin hospital and arrange an appointment. The number to ring is 028 71611363.”
Liz England, Western Trust Lead Nurse for Cancer Services asked: “Please remember how important your mammograms are and, if you don’t check your breasts regularly, do start now and follow the breast awareness five point code: you should know what looks and feels normal for you; know what changes to look for; look and feel; tell your GP about changes straight away; go for breast screening when invited”
Fiona Rankin, Breast Care Nurse with the Western Trust put forward guidance issued by the Department of Health, 2009 on how to check your breasts and said: “There is no right or wrong way to check your breast. It is important to check your breasts on a regular basis usually the week following your monthly period. A good time to check your breasts is in the bath or shower using either your shower gel or moisturiser.
“Women with large breasts may find it easier to examine them when lying down.”
Look at your breast in a mirror; check the skin of your breasts for dimples, puckering or skin rashes; check both nipples for changes for example do either appear to be pulled in (inverted); using your hand, check for lumps or swelling in your breast that feels different from the rest of your breast tissue; remember to check for lumps and swelling in the area surrounding your breast, including your armpit, and around your collarbone; if you notice any changes please see your GP.”
If you are below the screening age and are worried about changes within your breasts or have a family history of breast cancer then you should see your GP who can refer you to either a triple assessment clinic or family history clinic at Altnagelvin hospital.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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