It was early August 2014 when Councillor Pat Knight, from Hatfield, felt a lump in her left breast that she hadn’t previously detected when doing self-examinations.
She quickly made an appointment to see her GP and within days was referred to Doncaster Royal Infirmary’s (DRI) Jasmine Centre, where diagnostic tests revealed the lump was a two centimetres long tumour.
“Less than four weeks after feeling the lump, I had an operation at DRI to remove it. But, at a follow-up meeting with my consultant the following week, I was told there were still some rogue cancerous cells left behind, so I decided to have a full mastectomy, said Councillor Knight, who represents Doncaster Council’s Hatfield Ward and is also the Chair of the borough’s Health and Wellbeing Board.
“The wound took a while to heal so I started a 15 week course of chemotherapy in December last year, followed by three weeks of radiotherapy, and was told the treatment had been a success at the end of March this year.”
Councillor Knight’s prompt action in feeling something unusual in her breast and then contacting her GP straight away has led to her becoming the patient face behind a newly launched breast cancer awareness campaign in Doncaster.
Be breast aware. Pass it on is supported by the Doncaster Belles’ football team and features players Sue Smith and Kasia Lipka, plus Doncaster GP Dr Pat Barbour, who practises at The Medical Centre, on Frances Street and is a member of NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) Governing Body.
Dr Barbour said: “Breast cancer can be treated and beaten if it’s detected early, which is why it’s important that Doncaster women check their breasts regularly, just as Councillor Knight did, and also attend screening sessions when invited.
“My message is ‘If you are aware of any change in your breasts from what is normal to you, tell your doctor without delay’. Acting quickly could save your life.”
The campaign message will appear in local print and social media, on prescription medicine bags and on posters in GP surgeries and pharmacies. The Belles have also agreed to use their game against Oxford United at the Keepmoat on Saturday 3 October to highlight the signs and symptoms of the disease.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in England, with over 41,000 cases being diagnosed each year, including around 250 new cases each year in Doncaster. It’s indiscriminate, targeting women of all ages, as well as some men.
Survival tends to be lower in older women as research shows they are more likely to put off making an appointment with their GP if they suspect they may have the symptoms.
Other research indicates that older women have less knowledge about the other signs of breast cancer. They often assume that a lump is the only sign of the disease.
In reality, there are many possible signs of breast cancer, including:
- A lump or thickening in your armpit
- Changes to the skin of your breast
- Changes to the shape or size of your breast
- Nipple changes
- Nipple discharge
- Pain in your breast
- Any other unusual or persistent changes to your breasts
“So be breast aware – and pass it on”, added Dr Barbour.