In support of Be Clear On Cancer
The risk of cancer rises with age, so don't assume you're past it just because you're over 70…
Family support makes such a difference to women who are affected by breast cancer. Jose was 78 when she was diagnosed with the disease, and was incredibly thankful for the love and back-up provided by her daughter Katy.
‘After I had a fall, Katy was worried about me because she lived too far away to get to me quickly in an emergency. So we decided to sell both our homes and buy a place together with an annexe. That way I’d still be independent but Katy would be close by,’ recalls Jose.
‘We’d only just moved in when I noticed a pea-sized lump in my breast when I was in the shower. I knew it didn’t feel right, so I made an appointment with the GP.
‘She told me there was a possibility the lump was breast cancer, so she referred me for an urgent mammogram and biopsy at the hospital.’
Although Jose didn’t mention the GP appointment, she asked Katy to come with her to the hospital when her results were back.
‘I was shocked when the consultant told Mum there were three cancerous lumps in one breast, and suspicious areas in the other,’ recalls Katy.
‘Mum was very calm and brave about the diagnosis, even when the consultant advised that the best treatment would be a double mastectomy.’
She had her operation soon afterwards.
‘Mum received fantastic care from the NHS, and she was an inspiration to all the other ladies on the ward,’ Katy says proudly. ‘She was so cheerful and optimistic, and eager to do her physio exercises straight away so she could get back as much flexibility as possible.’
After only five days, Jose was able to go home. Katy, her husband and their three grown-up children all helped to make sure she made a speedy recovery from the surgery.
Many older women assume that they are ‘past it’ when it comes to the risk of breast cancer, but as Jose found, it can strike at any age. In fact, the risk of getting the disease rises with age, and one in three women who get cancer are over 70. So Jose and Katy both want to let other women know how important it is to be breast aware.
‘Mum is still cancer free four years on,’ says Katy. ‘But remember that age is no barrier to breast cancer, so if you’re concerned about anyone you love, remind them to be breast aware.’
‘I’m very glad I reported the lump I found to my GP,’ adds Jose. ‘The quicker you are diagnosed, the easier it is to treat breast cancer. So see your doctor if you notice any changes to your breasts. It could save your life.’
KNOW THE SYMPTOMS OF BREAST CANCER
One in three women who get breast cancer are over 70, so don’t assume you’re past it.
Finding breast cancer early makes it more treatable, so it’s important to be breast aware and to know what’s normal for you.
For more information visit nhs.uk/breastcancer70
A lump is not the only sign of breast cancer. Other possible signs of breast cancer include:
• A lump or thickening in your breast or armpit
• Changes to the skin of your breast, such as dimpling or puckering
• Changes in the shape, size or feel of your breast
• Nipple changes, including a change in the position of a nipple, or a rash on or around your nipple
• Nipple discharge
• Pain in your breast
If you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible.