Regular checks can save your life

09 October 2019

"Keep checking!" That is the advice from mum of two Lesley Howard, who says her regular self-examination of her breasts has probably saved her life.

Fifty-five-year-old Lesley, who lives in Dunstable, was carrying out one of her regular ‘self-checks’ in January this year when she noticed a lump in one of her breasts.

After a visit to her GP, Lesley met with Consultant Breast Surgeon Mr Peter Crane at Spire Harpenden Hospital who carried out a series of tests. One week later she received the news that she did have cancer.

“Although this was devastating news Mr Crane reassured me that, because I had discovered the lump early, my prognosis was good. He was calm and reassuring throughout everything and really put me at ease,” said Lesley.

She then met with Consultant Oncologist Mr Nihal Shah, who set out a treatment schedule that was to include 15 rounds of chemotherapy.

“This did come as a shock but I was determined to remain as normal as possible in order to face up to the experience. I discovered a love of baking - which was excellent therapy - and every week I took in cakes for the girls on the ward and the lovely receptionists.

“I even went on holiday during my chemo which really gave me a boost. Everyone at Spire helped make my experience as comfortable and bearable as it possibly could be. I can’t thank them enough.”
Following chemo, Lesley had surgery to remove the lump before undergoing a course of radiotherapy.

She said: “Cancer care specialist Amber Dance, along with nurses Roma, Vicky, Debbie, and Jenny - were amazing. I could not have got through this without their encouragement and genuine compassion. They have been a constant source of encouragement and advice for me as well as a hug whenever I needed one.”

But now she is urging other women to be vigilant when it comes to self-checking their breasts.

“It is so important to understand what is normal for you and recognise any changes to your breasts. Make time to carry out checks and make sure you do it on a regular basis. I did and I firmly believe it saved my life,” she said.

If you're worried about a change in your breasts, speak to your GP as soon as possible. We have a fantastic team here at Spire Harpenden Hospital who are on hand to look after you at every stage of your journey. Call our self-pay team today if you'd like to book in to our rapid access breast clinic on 01582 788 412.

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