Breast Cancer patients and survivors urge others not to ignore the warning signs of breast cancer
Breast cancer patients and survivors from around the country are urging others to join the Care for Your Pair movement, learn the warning signs for breast cancer and speak to two loved ones about breast health.
To mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, the Irish Cancer Society’s early detection campaign aims to get Ireland talking about breast health and the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.
Leona Doyle (35) from Co. Tipperary had just finished breast-feeding her youngest daughter when she discovered a lump on her breast. Initially she thought it might be a swollen milk duct and wasn’t alarmed.
“It was around this time that the musician Sarah Harding had passed away from breast cancer. I remember reading how she had put off seeking medical attention when she found lumps, so I decided it would be best to get myself checked out by my GP.
“It was only after I had been referred on for mammogram and a biopsy that I was diagnosed with stage three invasive ductal breast cancer. I am so glad that I went to my GP that day.”
Bernie Sherry (51) from Co. Monaghan was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2020, just as the pandemic got under way. She is happy she pushed to be seen by a medical professional despite disruptions to services.
“I would like people, especially women, to be kinder to themselves and prioritise their health. I am a mother of two and farmer’s wife, I have a very busy lifestyle. Typically, I used be working hard most of the week and looking after everyone else but myself.
When I was growing up, there wasn’t the same emphasis on minding yourself. So I would say to trust your gut, if you notice anything unusual for you, get yourself checked out. You know your own body best.”
Sharon Greaves (55) from Co. Dublin is one of many people whose opportunity of receiving a prompt cancer diagnosis may have sadly slipped through the cracks during the pandemic. She had only recently become eligible for breast screening when Covid-related service disruptions hit in 2020. On a visit with her GP, she was recommended to book herself in for a mammogram. Sharon was in the fortunate position of being able to source one privately, where the imaging picked up two tumours in her breast.
“The first one was detected straight away, and they also caught a shadow which a follow-up MRI identified as another tumour. I’m left to think that had I been called for screening it would have been caught earlier, and maybe they would have caught it with the first tumour which might only have required a smaller surgery,” reflects Sharon, who went on to have a full mastectomy and breast reconstruction in October 2020 followed by further surgeries and hormone therapy.
Caroline O’Sullivan, Cancer Nurse at the Irish Cancer Society said: “Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in Ireland. Over 3,500 women and approximately 35 men are diagnosed with it each year. It is vital therefore that everyone be ‘breast aware’. Thankfully most breast cancers are diagnosed at an earlier stage. The earlier you are diagnosed, the more treatment options are available to you, including surgery, radiotherapy, and drug therapies.
If you are concerned about breast cancer, call the Irish Cancer Society’s Support Line on Freephone 1800 200 700. You can also find out more at www.cancer.ie”
The Society is also encouraging the public to support the ‘Care for Your Pair’ campaign by hosting a Big Pink Breakfast or making a donation to fund vital breast cancer research and support services this October. Visit cancer.ie/careforyourpair for more information.
Centra, who have kindly supported the Society’s breast cancer awareness campaign for the past 13 years, will be highlighting the ‘Care for your Pair’ message and encouraging customers to make a €1 till donation in store from the 29th of September to the 2nd of October in selected Centra stores nationwide.
All funds raised through ‘Care for your Pair’ will go directly to support breast cancer patients like Leona, Bernie and Sharon, by providing crucial cancer services, such as the Irish Cancer Society Support Line, Volunteer Driver Service, Night Nursing Service and free counselling.
To learn more about ‘Care for your Pair’, the signs of breast cancer and how to check yourself, visit cancer.ie/careforyourpair