Spotting breast cancer early

A woman drinking tea

Bethan* tells us about spotting the early signs of cancer

Cancer. That’s something which affects other people; or so I naively thought aged 30 and in excellent physical health. Then I found a lump which felt like a small firm grape in my left breast completely by chance. I had never routinely checked my breasts because, with no family history of breast cancer and age on my side, I didn’t think I needed to. I was terrified when I found the lump and kept trying to tell myself it couldn’t be anything nasty – I was too young and healthy, but I also had a gut feeling that told me something wasn’t right.

For the next month it was all I could think about. Had it changed? Had it got smaller? Had it gone away? But it stayed consistent. I knew I needed to see my GP and despite fearing the potential outcome, it was the best thing I could have done and ultimately saved my life. Within four weeks of that initial appointment with my GP I had undergone several investigations and was given my diagnosis of an early stage breast cancer. I was thrown into a whirlwind of appointments and treatment sessions, and 16 months later I completed treatment and was officially cancer free.

I would really like to encourage ALL women of any age to get to know their breasts and check them every month for changes. Finding my lump and dealing with it early means that my cancer was fully treatable, and I am incredibly fortunate to be able to leave cancer in the past. If you notice any changes, please go and see your GP – it could save your life.

I learnt very quickly that cancer doesn’t discriminate based on age or physical fitness, so please seek a medical opinion if you notice anything unusual. The same also applies to men who are not exempt from getting breast cancer. Although much less common, it is not impossible so men should monitor for warning signs or changes too and seek advice from their GP with any concerns.

*Not her real name

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