Vital support when you need it most – Delyth Morgan
Delyth Morgan says it remains crucial that women check their breasts regularly and contact their GP if they notice any unusual changes during the coronavirus pandemic
The coronavirus outbreak has presented a crisis on an unprecedented scale for breast cancer.
While it may be some time before we fully understand the long-term effects of Covid-19 for breast cancer patients, what we do know is that right now it is having major impacts on the lives of thousands of people affected by breast cancer.
The pandemic has paused treatments, surgery, and the breast screening programme in Scotland. Over one and a half thousand breast cancer patients in the UK could also now be facing extremely upsetting and lengthy delays for reconstructive surgery, as the backlog due to the pandemic has added to already extensive waiting lists for delayed reconstruction.
In Scotland, around 4,700 people are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. Most cases are found because women have noticed new or unusual breast changes and so it’s vital that everyone checks their breasts regularly and contacts their GP if they notice any unusual changes – it’s critical women continue to do this during the pandemic. While most breast changes won’t be breast cancer, on the occasions when it is, early diagnosis is key to having the best chances of treatment being successful.
Checking your breasts only takes a few minutes. You could do this when you get dressed, in the shower, or when you’re putting on moisturiser. Just remember to check the whole breast and the surrounding area, including your upper chest and armpits. There’s no special way, it’s as simple as TLC; Touch, Look, Check. If you’re worried about a possible symptom of breast cancer please don’t wait to report it.
Breast Cancer Now is determined to make sure anyone affected by breast cancer continues to receive the support and information they need, whatever they’re facing, now more than ever. If you need someone to talk to, our expert nurses are just at the end of the phone on our free helpline (0808 800 6000).
For many who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, talking to someone else who’s been through it too can be really helpful for their ongoing recovery. This is exactly what our Someone Like Me enables people with a primary diagnosis to do, and we have extended the one-to-one phone or email service to provide support for people feeling isolated or anxious as a result of the pandemic.
Thanks to the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery our Moving Forward courses are now online. They provide information, support and expert guidance on adjusting to life after breast cancer treatment and an opportunity for people to speak to others who understand exactly how they’re feeling.
We also run a Living with Secondary Breast Cancer Online programme where people can access specialist information and share experiences, alongside small virtual sessions to provide a safe, confidential space to talk with others who are also facing the uncertainty and challenges that a diagnosis of secondary breast cancer can bring.
Breast Cancer Now funds around a quarter of breast cancer research in the UK. But the pandemic forced labs to close, putting many of the world-class scientists and experts we fund on pause and unable to continue with their work for 100 days or more – that’s around 230,000 hours of critical breast cancer research that we’ve already lost in the labs.
Breast Cancer Now’s research and care has never been needed more than it is right now, in these extremely challenging times of Covid-19, yet the pandemic has paused not just our research, but our community support services and much of the charity’s fundraising activity. It’s critical that we continue to be there to provide support and hope to the hundreds of thousands of people affected by breast cancer in the UK, especially at a time when they are likely to be feeling more isolated and alone, but we urgently need your support to be able to continue to do this. A quick and fun way that you can raise vital funds for Breast Cancer Now is by dressing up in your finest pink clothes and taking part in our wear it pink day on Friday 23 October. Whether your wear it pink day is online, held with your household, or safely socially-distanced, wear pink and raise funds, to help Breast Cancer Now to press play on breast cancer research and care so urgently needed. Register at: www.wearitpink.org.
Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast cancer Now, the research and care charity
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