In support of Be Clear on Cancer

When Maggie Blower was diagnosed with breast cancer at 79, her family rallied round, says daughter Alison

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Mum and I live within about a mile of one another in South East London and she’s always been an amazing support to me. I’m a single working parent to nine-year-old twin boys, so life is full on.

It’s my mum Maggie who has kept me sane.

She’s incredibly energetic and youthful for her years, so it came as a shock when she was diagnosed with breast cancer eight years ago.

At 79, Mum thought she was past the danger of getting breast cancer, and hadn’t been on the look out for changes to her breasts. Little did we realise that the risk of breast cancer increases with age.

It came to light when Mum had to see her GP about something else and mentioned in passing that she’d noticed her left breast had been itchy around the nipple. Although it’s not a common breast cancer symptom, the GP sent her for a mammogram.

I went with Mum to the hospital in Farnborough and I’m so glad I did, as she was told straightaway that she had breast cancer and would have to have a mastectomy.

It’s at times like this you realise how lucky we are to have the NHS – they moved so quickly and her care was excellent. Within two weeks, she’d had the op to remove her breast and six lymph nodes. Mum stayed overnight in hospital, then Macmillan nurses visited her at home for six weeks.

My sisters Fiona and Sally live abroad but they came back to help out and we all took it in turns to take Mum for her radiography sessions.

Mum decided against reconstructive surgery – she didn’t want the fuss. She was fitted for a prosthetic bra by the NHS but they also sell them in some high street stores now. In 2015, five years after her diagnosis, Mum got the all clear, which was wonderful news.

Mum now has a mammogram every year and we’re both keen to warn other women to be aware of any changes to their breasts. We’re all so busy it’s easy to ignore warning signs, but finding breast cancer early means that it’s more likely to be treated successfully.

KNOW THE SYMPTOMS OF BREAST CANCER

One in three women who get breast cancer are over 70, so don’t assume you’re past it. Finding breast cancer early makes it more treatable, so it’s important to be breast aware and to know what’s normal for you. For more information, visit nhs.uk/breastcancer70

A lump is not the only sign of breast cancer. Other possible signs of breast cancer include:

· A lump or thickening in your breast or armpit
· Changes to the skin of your breast, such as dimpling or puckering
· Changes in the shape, size or feel of your breast
· Nipple changes, including a change in the position of a nipple, or a rash on or around your nipple
· Nipple discharge
· Pain in your breast

If you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible.

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