We’re looking back at Breast Cancer Awareness Month and why it’s so important to raise both funds and awareness for Breast Cancer. This year Mills & Boon partnered with ASDA to raise money and awareness for their Breast Cancer campaign, Tickled Pink. 10% of stickered book sales in ASDA were donated to Tickled Pink’s chosen charities Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now. The donation was boosted by Mills & Boon author collections in 20 different ASDA stores across the UK which took place on Friday 5th – Sunday 7th October. We are extremely pleased to say a total of over £8,000 was raised.
Our wonderful author Liz Fielding draws on her personal experiences to highlight why it really is so important to raise awareness for Breast Cancer.
In 1992, my mother found a lump in her breast. She didn’t tell anyone. She didn’t do anything. Afterwards, she told me that she hadn’t wanted to frighten my Dad. They had been married nearly fifty years, it was a true love match and she would have spared him any pain. But she was frightened too so she waited and waited, hoping that the lump would just go away.
When she couldn’t hide it from Dad any longer, went to the doctor and started the inevitable investigations, she finally told me, I was not only upset, hating that she was going through this, I was horrified. I had found a lump a couple of years before and I had been scared witless, too, but I was on the doctor’s doorstep the next morning. After a mammogram I was pronounced fine and the lump disappeared on its own.
I hadn’t told her for exactly the same reason she hadn’t told Dad or confided in me. I had told my husband the minute I found the ghastly thing, but I didn’t want to frighten my Mum and Dad or cause them unnecessary worry. Time enough for that if it was bad news.
I bitterly regret that now, because if I had told her, shared my fears, she might have talked to me sooner so that I could have taken her to the doctor myself.
I had to wait several weeks for my mammogram. My mother saw a specialist within days. Clearly her doctor was a lot more concerned about her lump than mine had been. It did not look good. She had scans and received the terrifying confirmation that it was cancer on my Dad’s birthday.
We had prepared dinner for them, their favourites – a prawn cocktail, roast beef – but Instead of the family sitting down to a meal together to celebrate, she and Dad came and sat down with us and told us the news. She was so calm on the outside, but I can’t begin to imagine what she was going through inside.
My Mum faced surgery with incredible bravery, was supportive of other women on her ward who were going through the same thing – one of them a young mother.
She came through the mastectomy, didn’t have to face chemo and seemed fine. Six months later the cancer was back. My Dad talked to her doctor and was given the news that it was terminal. She had weeks. He died from a massive heart attack on Christmas Day and my Mum was in a McMillan ward within days. She died a month after my Dad, less than a year from her diagnosis, aged just 71.
My own lump returned the next year and this time I was terrified. I saw the same surgeon as my mother and when I heard him ask his nurse for “the operations book” I nearly passed out. He quickly explained that he didn’t think it was anything sinister but wanted to investigate because of the family history.
After a biopsy I was, once again pronounced clear.
An older cousin, who had been diagnosed eighteen years earlier died later that year. Another cousin’s daughter, a woman with two young children, was diagnosed with breast cancer five years later. She, happily, is a survivor. And that’s the good news. Treatment has moved on. Survival rates are much higher. But we all have to be aware of the symptoms, act quickly.
With a daughter and two granddaughters I want to raise awareness of the need to respond to any changes in the breast with speed. The survival rate from this ghastly thing are much, much higher than twenty-five years ago, but fear, delay, kills.
Don’t miss your mammograms.
Check your breasts regularly.
Be breast aware.
If you notice anything different in your breasts, puckered skin, changes in your nipples, lumps or bumps, go straight to your doctor. If the receptionist says there is a two week wait for an appointment, tell her your symptoms. Time matters.