Amy Dowden raising awareness for breast cancer for under 50s
Penny Hole, from Gendros in Swansea, was watching ITV’s show Lorraine with her daughter when a breast cancer awareness campaign came on.
Penny, then 60, was more concerned about her daughter, who was 28, as the campaign explained that breast cancer can strike at any age.
The 60-year-old who had a mammogram a couple of months before didn’t “worry so much” about herself.
However, she found something odd in her breast after her daughter asked her to check.
Penny said: “While watching the show, I sat back and I actually checked and I found a hard lump in my breast.”
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According to Cancer Research UK, a mass in the breast or thickening is usually “the first symptom” of breast cancer that most people notice.
While most breast lumps are not cancerous, it’s still important to get them checked by a doctor.
The charity also recommends looking out for the following symptoms:
- New lump or thickening in your breast or armpit
- Change in size, shape or feel of your breast
- Skin changes in the breast such as puckering, dimpling, a rash or redness of the skin
- Fluid leaking from the nipple in a woman who isn’t pregnant or breastfeeding
- Changes in the position of the nipple.
A couple of months after finding the mass, the mum-of-three was diagnosed with breast cancer.
While the news felt earth-shattering, she felt grateful to the Lorraine show for raising awareness of the deadly disease.
“I strongly believe if it wasn’t for the Lorraine show, I wouldn’t be here today,” she said.
Following her diagnosis, Penny received six rounds of chemotherapy treatment.
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Her doctors planned to remove her left breast but found that the cancer had spread to her bones, becoming incurable.
Penny, now 62, will be receiving treatment indefinitely. “Bone cancer is treatable, but not curable,” she said. “I am positive, that is the only way I can be.”
The grandmother-of-eight got in touch with the ITV show to thank them and she eventually discovered that 66 other women had also been diagnosed with breast cancer after checking their breasts following the segment.
The campaign Change and Check was originally started by Lorraine producer Helen Addis who was also diagnosed with breast cancer.
Helen arranged for Penny and the other women to visit London and get involved in further campaigning to raise awareness.
This year, Penny took part in a choir set up, who have produced a song called “Golden” to raise profits that will go to the breast cancer charity Future Dreams. You can pre-order the single here.
The 62-year-old is passionate about campaigning and raising awareness of symptoms as she hopes it can get more women to check their breasts. She stressed that breast cancer can occur at any age, and even if you are routinely screened over the age of 50, you should still do physical checks.
Penny added: “When you get diagnosed it is like a brick in your stomach. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but [the campaign] is one thing [that] has become a positive for all of us. We have become like a family now.”
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