Early detection increases chances of successful treatment

Patient online consultation with a GP via a tablet

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and last October I was diagnosed with breast cancer. You never really think it’s going to happen to you, well I didn’t! Although I always felt a responsibility to check myself, the reality is I rarely did. I found a breast lump in September 2020 entirely by chance whilst I was washing. One thing I am glad of is that, due to my desire to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle, I had stopped using those plastic mesh shower/bath scrunchies years ago and so felt the breast lump with my hand, there is no way I would have detected it otherwise.

Even right in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, I was seen quickly by my GP – the same week I phoned. Then I was seen at the breast clinic within weeks and had surgery to remove the lump within a month.

Early detection means treatment is more likely to be successful. Mine was. Symptoms include: a lump or an area of thickened tissue in either breast that was not there before, a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts, a discharge of fluid from either nipple, a lump or swelling in the armpit, a change in the look or feel of the skin such as puckering, dimpling a rash or redness or a change of appearance of a nipple (nhs.uk).

A year on and I’d love to say I was fine. The truth is I’m not completely fine. The hospital treatments were successful, that is the main, most important thing. However, recovering from cancer is a long and lonely journey with the impact of cancer trickling into every area of life. I will be fine though. I want you to be too. Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women and some men (nhs.uk). The best thing to do is check, check and keep checking and if you are at all worried see your GP.

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