At the launch of October’s annual Breast Cancer Awareness Month, 35 year old breast cancer survivor, Shona MacInnes from South Uist, is eager to share her story to encourage women to regularly self-check their breasts and detect cancer early.
On November 2, 2017, Shona received the devastating news she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
At the age of 33 Shona was a wife and mother of three, was physically fit and healthy, and studying to become a teacher.
There was no immediate family history of breast cancer, so it was a shock to everyone when Shona received her diagnosis.
It was during her monthly breast self-examination that Shona discovered a lump in her breast and immediately contacted her local GP Practice for an appointment.
After her initial GP appointment, she was then referred to Glasgow where, within seven days, she had received her breast cancer diagnosis and a treatment plan was put into action.
Shona said: “It was a tough nine months, but it shows just how important it is for women to regularly check their breasts so that if breast cancer is found, it’s more likely to be treated successfully.”
Many of the symptoms of breast cancer are invisible but some symptoms can be caught early by looking out for certain changes in your breasts and being proactive about your breast health.
Lumps can appear anywhere in your breasts, armpit or around your collarbone.
Any changes in the size or shape of your breasts need to be checked out. Remember that if you do find a lump, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer, but you do need to get it looked at, to rule it out. Symptoms and signs of breast cancer include:
A change in breast size or shape; A lump or area that feels thicker than the rest of the breast; A change in skin texture such as puckering or dimpling, redness or rash on the skin and/or around the nipple; Your nipple has become pulled in, or looks different, for example changed its position or shape; Liquid that comes from the nipple without squeezing; Pain in your breast or your armpit that’s there all or almost all of the time.
On July 12, 2018, Shona celebrated with her family and friends on completing her treatment and being given the news she was cancer-free.
Surrounded by her husband and children, Shona enthusiastically rang the bell at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, which signifies the end of a patient receiving cancer treatment.
She added: “I was able to get through my cancer diagnosis and treatment with the support of my family and friends, and I am so grateful to them.
“I am also very grateful of the fantastic treatment I received through the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, who helped and supported me throughout my treatment plan.”
Shona urges: “Please don’t ever ignore any unusual signs or symptoms with your breasts and remember to TLC (Touch, Look and Check).
“Remember that cancer does not discriminate, it can affect anyone - my life was normal, I was busy with my life and family commitments while studying.
“It would have been easy for me to overlook my breast self-examination, but I am so grateful that I didn’t.
“I found the lump, got it checked as soon as possible, and now I’m cancer-free.”