This is a transcript of my My View column that was published in the Doncaster Star on Monday 17 October, 2016
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and last week I met two Doncaster women who have successfully stood up to the disease and now want to share their experiences to help others learn from them.
Cllr Pat Knight, from Dunscroft, and Jayne Brown, from nearby Dunsville, are cancer survivors and rightfully proud of it. They know that being alert to the warning signs and accessing treatment quickly are key to winning the battle, so they’re urging Doncaster women to check their breasts regularly and attend screening sessions when they are due.
Two years ago, Cllr Pat made the potentially life-saving discovery of a lump in her left breast whilst doing a routine self-examination in the shower. She promptly made an appointment with her GP and within days was referred to the Jasmine Centre at Doncaster Royal Infirmary (DRI) where tests confirmed a two centimetres long tumour. Within four weeks she had surgery to remove the lump, followed by a mastectomy to remove some rogue cancerous cells that had been left behind.
After fifteen weeks of chemotherapy and three weeks of radiotherapy she was given the good news that the treatment had been a success.
Jayne’s story also has a happy ending, though she admits things could have been very different. In January 2012 she was invited to DRI for a routine breast screening examination but cancelled it because – in her words – she “foolishly” thought she was too busy at work to attend. It was re-scheduled a few weeks later, where the examination revealed a tumour deeply seated on the side of her chest wall.
Although she self-examined her breasts regularly, she was told she wouldn’t have been able to feel the lump until it had grown bigger, which could have taken up to a year. Only hi-tech breast screening technology could have spotted it.
Jayne had surgery to remove the tumorous lump and because the cancer had been detected early, it hadn’t had chance to spread. She needed a five weeks course of radiotherapy, but no chemotherapy.
Since then Jayne has attended her breast screening appointments on time and urges other women to learn from her experience and make sure they do too. She’s looking forward to early 2017 being a five years milestone since completing her treatment.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in England with over 41,000 cases being diagnosed annually, including around 250 each year in Doncaster.
Coun Pat and Jayne can’t thank the NHS enough for the top quality care they received – it potentially saved their lives. They are living proof that breast cancer can be treated and beaten if it’s caught early. That’s why it’s crucial to check your breasts regularly and attend for a screening examination when you are invited.
So, if you are aware of any change in your breasts from what is normal to you, tell your doctor straight away. Acting quickly could save your life.