Recent figures from Cancer Research UK indicate half the UK population will develop cancer at some point in their lives.
So we can be pretty sure that, even if we aren’t personally diagnosed with the disease, we’ll certainly have close friends, relatives or workmates who will be.
At such times it’s important to give as much practical and emotional support as possible.
That’s the case at my GP workplace, Doncaster’s Kingthorne Practice, where our practice manager Alison Maw is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Alison is receiving great support from workmates, who have dubbed themselves ‘Al’s Pink Army’. Yesterday they demonstrated this in style by accompanying her as she took part in Doncaster’s 5k Race for Life on Town Fields.
Alison’s mum Margaret and daughter Lexie also took part, making it a real family effort.
Last week colleagues invited Alison to a fundraising ‘wear pink’ day at Kingthorne, supported by other GP practices in Doncaster that have made donations. As I write this column the ‘Army’ are well on their way to raising £1,000 for breast cancer research in support of Alison.
The good news is more women are surviving breast cancer than ever before, thanks to earlier detection and treatment. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, with around 140 women being diagnosed every day. Men can also get breasts cancer but it’s rare.
Women should get into the habit of being breast aware, which means:
n Knowing what is normal for you
n Look and feel your breasts
n Know what changes to look for
n Report any changes without delay
n Changes in the size, shape or feel of your breasts
n A new lump or thickening in one breast or armpit
n Any puckering, dimpling or redness of the skin
n Changes in the position of the nipple, a rash or nipple discharge
n Pain or discomfort that is new to you and felt only on one side
If you notice these or any other unusual changes to your breasts see your GP.
If you’re touched by cancer, having the right kind of information and support is essential. Doncaster people can use the Living Well Information and Support Service, at the St John’s Information and Support Centre at Tickhill Road Hospital site. Staff offer help, including emotional support, links to support service and booklets and DVDs.
They also link into Aurora centres and Doncaster’s Cancer Buddies team, who provide support to those who have been on a similar cancer journey, and their carers. Ring 01302 796853.
* Dr Nick Tupper, Chairman, Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group