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Dublin: 8 °C Monday 19 November, 2018

‘I had no lump, but had an aggressive type of breast cancer’

Anna wants women to make sure they keep their breast check appointments, as hers saved her life.

SO MANY WOMEN asked me ‘When did you find the lump?’, but my tumour was so far back against the breast wall that it would never have shown as a lump. I was well and healthy and working full time when I was diagnosed so I had no symptoms whatsoever. It was a complete shock to me.

ANNA CONNOLLY WAS diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 at the age of 52.

She had been for a breast check at 50 and was given the all-clear. She expected the same thing to happen two years later as she’s a non-smoker and had no symptoms.

anna before Anna two years ago

“The type of cancer I had was small but aggressive (HER2-positive). If I had missed that appointment and not had it for another two years the doctor said I’d be in serious trouble.

“How many times have people put things off because we’re working or whatever? You don’t feel six months going and then think ‘God, I never went for that appointment’.

“People should be chasing up mothers and sisters and friends over 50 and asking them ‘Have you had your breast check?’”

A lot of people say screening is a complete waste of money, for me it saved my life … This is one system that actually does work, we should be shouting about it.

After a mastectomy and a year-and-a-half of treatment, Anna is now back in work and feeling very well.

anna today Anna today

Her hair has grown back, she jogs 20 minutes every day and has joined the Plurabelle Paddlers – a dragon boat team based in Dublin. All of its members are breast cancer survivors.

Every year, around 2,600 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and 660 women die from the disease. One in ten women in Ireland will get breast cancer at some stage in their lives.

BreastCheck is a government-funded programme that provides free mammograms for women aged 50 to 64 every two years. More information is available here.

In October, the Irish Cancer Society is asking people to ‘Paint it Pink‘ to raise funds for breast cancer research and services.

WATCH: BBC presenter shares powerful mastectomy video diary

Read: ‘I started chemo on the day of my 51st birthday. It floored me’

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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