“I’M one of the lucky ones” – these were the words of one cancer survivor, who has backed a county-wide campaign to promote the early diagnosis of cancer.
Mum-of-two Bernice Taylor, from Storrington, was diagnosed with cancer in both breasts in November, 2004, after she noticed one side of one breast to be slightly firmer than the other.
Following her diagnosis, 46-year-old Bernice had a double mastectomy, a course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and had both ovaries removed to treat the cancer, which pushed her to an early menopause.
After being given the all-clear, Bernice is now backing a £10million partnership between Cancer Research UK and Tesco to promote early diagnosis of cancer.
Bernice said: “I feel very proud to be launching this partnership between Cancer Research UK and Tesco. I’m one of the lucky ones – my cancer was found almost by accident but, thankfully, it was found early. All too often, cancer is detected further down the line when effective treatment becomes more difficult.”
Bernice, who lived in Worthing for more than 25 years, said she had been due to have a breast reduction when she found the abnormality in her breast.
“My first concern was actually the worry that I might not be able to have the surgery,” she said. “But when I felt something was different, I went to my GP, even though I was fully expecting him to say I was worrying too much.
“Within an hour I had had an ultrasound, a mammogram and various other tests, and I made the consultant tell me what he thought it would be. He told me he suspected it was cancer, and he was right, which is quite a lot to take in in a short space of time.”
She added: “But, I am grateful I did check, because worryingly, cosmetic surgery clinics do not usually check your breasts before surgery.”
As a result of the new partnership, Tesco has pledged to raise £10 million nationwide to fund 32 early diagnosis projects across the UK. Tesco stores will also be displaying and distributing Cancer Research UK leaflets, as well as launching a new in-store customer awareness campaign. The launch coincides with the publication of a new report by Cancer Research UK, titled Delay Kills. The report showed more than three-quarters of people in the South East failed to mention weight loss or coughing when asked to list possible signs or symptoms of cancer.
More than two-thirds of people surveyed also failed to recognise bleeding or bowel and bladder problems a possible sign of cancer.
The survey also showed more than a third of people put off going to the doctor because they are afraid of what they might find, while a quarter of people surveyed thought they would be wasting the doctor’s time.
Lynn Daly, Cancer Research UK Sussex spokesperson, said; “We’re delighted to have Bernice launch our partnership with Tesco. Her experience really brings home how important early diagnosis is. Our new report shows how much more we have to do to raise awareness about the early signs of cancer.
“Now, thanks to Tesco’s support, our scientists can focus on even more research to find out how we can get cancer diagnosed sooner and help many more people survive in the future.”