Action Cancer has teamed up with Gordons Chemists once again to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) this October. And its key message is to encourage women to come forward for breast screening.
Action Cancer is the only charity in the UK and Ireland that offers women aged 40 - 49 and 70+ the opportunity to have a free mammogram, complementing the NHS screening programme which calls women aged 50 - 70. Approximately 1,150 women are diagnosed with and 300 die from breast cancer in Northern Ireland every year.
Gordons Chemists' Bangor and Newtownards stores would appeal to all women aged 40-49 and 70+ to call into their local store on Friday 19 October 2012 during 'Breast Action Day' to sign up for a free breast screening or simply sign the 'Ribbon of Hope'.
John Clark, General Manager, Gordons Chemists, said: "This is our fifth year supporting Action Cancer's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Our staff are committed to the campaign and building on the vital funds we have raised over the last four years so on 19 October our stores will be decorated with splashes of pink as we celebrate the day in a fun and focused way to help save lives.
"We decided to introduce the 'Ribbon of Hope' this year to give customers an opportunity to add their signature to a ribbon to encourage other women affected by breast cancer, to remember friends or loved ones they may have lost to this disease or maybe even to give themselves hope as they undergo treatment. We are really looking forward to assisting the campaign with new requests for free breast screenings from the self-referral forms completed in-store and to raising funds to save, support and reassure."
Local woman, Joan Elwood, from Newtownards, is retired and has two children, Nicola and John. Joan had her breast cancer detected by Action Cancer's screening service and today shares her journey.
"In my late 30s and early 40s I experienced a couple of benign lumps and since then I have always been vigilant in attending my screenings when called by both Action Cancer and the NHS."
She went for a screening three years ago this month and was referred to the breast clinic. I went on my own, despite my daughter's insistence, as I was sure it was another benign lump. I had a biopsy followed by an ultrasound. When the second doctor came in to the room I began to get a little concerned. They explained that I needed another biopsy.
"After the second procedure I stationed myself in the waiting room. I was one of the very few left. Shortly after a nurse approached me, led me to a side room and asked if I had anyone with me. The first thing that ran through my mind was 'how could they have processed the results so quickly?'
"I was told I had DCIS cancer, (a non invasive form of cancer that had started to develop in some of my breast ducts), that the best form of treatment was a mastectomy and that I was booked in for the operation in less than two weeks time. Just like that. As the doctor had explained that this was the best option for me, I quickly accepted it and thought 'so that's the next few weeks planned out for me then'!
"I went in for my surgery on 22nd October at 5pm. At approximately 7.30pm I was sitting up in my bed and chatting with the nurse, thankfully experiencing neither pain nor nausea. My daughter took me home at 2pm the next day.
"I attended a follow up appointment the following week and was advised that as the operation had been such a success I wouldn't need any further treatment. I was so relieved."
Anyone interested in obtaining a breast screening appointment should contact Action Cancer on 028 9080 3344, visit www.actioncancer.org