Why does the fact I’ve had breast cancer not frighten me?
A local Camden resident shares her personal story on how attending a breast cancer screening programme helped her to detect cancer at an early stage leading to a successful treatment. She is now completely cured of cancer.
I’m over 70, which means I no longer get called for breast screening but can still request it. In April, I realised I hadn’t had a mammogram for more than 3-years so, I booked an appointment at the Kentish Town centre (Central and East London Breast Screening Service Tel: 0203 3758 2024). There were no lumps in my breast, so I wasn’t at all concerned hence I was surprised when, a few days later, someone telephoned me and asked me to come for further tests. Just 10-days after my initial mammogram, I was being seen by a doctor at the Barts Breast Cancer Centre for an ultrasound scan and biopsy. A week later, I met the senior Consultant at the Centre who gave me the bad news that I had breast cancer and the good news, that it was only a few millimetres in diameter, so caught very early, thanks to the mammogram.
After some more investigations, blood tests, scans etc., I was operated on as a day patient. It is called breast conservation surgery, where only the cancerous area is excised. My breast has hardly changed shape, and I am still wearing the same bras as before.
It’s now 2-months after the operation, and I’ve just finished a 5-day course of radiotherapy, an insurance policy to catch any cancer cells that might still be lurking. I’ve had no side effects.
The Barts Breast Cancer Clinic filled me with confidence; it is incredibly efficient and well run but manages to be very caring and supportive at the same time. Like every patient, I was allocated a key worker, a Clinical Nurse Specialist, who helped coordinate my treatment and was readily available on the phone to answer my queries and to allay my anxieties. Everyone I met was friendly and helpful, and there was minimal waiting around.
I feel privileged to have received such exemplary care and was reassured that they would be keeping an eye on me for the next 5-years. But I also know that I am almost certainly completely cured of cancer that was too small to detect except by a mammogram.
About the local cancer awareness campaign
Healthwatch Camden is supporting North Central London Cancer Alliance in encouraging people who have symptoms that may be suggestive of cancer to contact their GP practice. The campaign also aims to increase the number of people taking part in screening for breast, bowel or cervical cancer when invited.
If you have any of the following symptoms:
- Unexpected bleeding, like blood in your poo, pee or spit
- Unexplained lump
- Unexplained pain that lasts three weeks or more
- A persistent cough that lasts three weeks or more
- Unexplained weight loss
You should contact your GP practice to arrange a check.
It may be nothing serious – in fact, more than 9 out of 10 people are not diagnosed with cancer.
That’s why it’s also important to take part in routine cancer screening when invited.
The way you make an appointment may have changed, but your GP practice is open for check-ups and screenings, and healthcare professionals are available to see you safely.
Watch this video to find out more about why early contact with your GP is important.
Visit the website to know more.