Touch, Look, Check - it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month
THE earlier breast cancer is found the better the chances of beating it – which is why it is vital that women make regular checks. However many women don't check their breasts either because they don't know what signs and symptoms they are looking for, or they simply forget to do it.
Throughout October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Breakthrough is urging women to text SIGNS to 70500 to get their free credit-card sized TLC (Touch Look Check) guide. Not only does the TLC guide detail the key signs and symptoms of breast cancer, it also includes information about what to do if you notice anything unusual. Its handy size means women can keep it somewhere useful, such as in a handbag or on the nightstand, that will act as a helpful reminder to check their breasts.
Being breast aware is as simple as TLC:
TOUCH your breasts. Can you feel anything unusual?
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LOOK for changes. Is there any change in shape or texture?
CHECK anything unusual with your doctor.
The TLC guide gave Breakthrough supporter Anne Rathbone the confidence to go back to her doctor and push for a referral. She's currently undergoing vital treatment for her cancer.
WHEN Anne Rathbone, 49, found a thickening of the skin on her breast that reminded her of a piece of chewing gum, she didn't think it was breast cancer. Anne's mother had breast cancer twice and, though Anne has always been breast aware, she didn't think that this was one of the signs of breast cancer.
Based on her mother's experience, Anne believed that cancerous tumours did not cause any pain or discomfort, and would feel like a small stone. Over the years she had regularly attended the breast clinic at Guy's Hospital, had undergone several mammograms and a biopsy for a benign lump, so was happy to believe that, like many women, she simply had lumpy breasts.
Anne was experiencing some pain in two lumps in her breast but, when her GP assured her that these weren't a cause for concern, she went on her way. It was when she heard about Breakthrough Breast Cancer's TLC campaign on the radio, and texted for a guide, that she realised she in fact had two of the common signs: thickening and a change in the shape of her breast, in addition to the pain.
Her breasts were looking more and more different from each other every day, so she followed Breakthrough's advice and went back to her doctor. Armed with our TLC guide, Anne was referred for a mammogram and a scan, where she was initially diagnosed with two tumours in her breast.
Anne, who has a 21-year-old son, soon underwent treatment. During her operation it was discovered she in fact had four tumours in her breast, and that her cancer had spread to one sentinel lymph node. She had a mastectomy, with reconstruction, and chemotherapy, and is currently undergoing radiotherapy.
Speaking about her experience, Anne said:
"Breakthrough Breast Cancer's TLC information gave me the nudge I needed to take my symptoms back to my doctor. When I was struggling for a referral, the TLC guide backed up my concerns with hard facts, meaning my cancer was diagnosed and I could start receiving treatment to help me get well again.
"I really support Breakthrough's TLC campaign; getting vital information about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer out there in a really simple way. I still carry the guide with me in my purse; knowing what to look for really could save your life."