A Lancashire businesswoman has used her home interiors and lifestyle social media account to encourage women to book their breast screening appointment.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Lisa Durkin, 50 from Burnley who runs Placeshaper Interiors, a home interior stylist business shared several videos on her Instagram stories when she went for her first mammogram in a bid to encourage more women to attend their vital scan.
Home styling enthusiast Lisa said: “I turned 50 last year which means I’m now eligible for breast screening, so when I was invited to my appointment, I wanted to let women know what it was like and highlight the importance of not putting off your mammogram especially if you’re perimenopausal. The audience for my Instagram account is 95% female so if it encourages someone else to take up the screening invite and find the experience less daunting then it’s worth it.”
Lisa’s @placeshaperinteriors Instagram account has over 16,600 followers and while she usually promotes home / DIY and fashion content, she has started to share more real-life content around women’s health, menopause, and ways to help tackle mental health and wellbeing.
Lisa said: “My mammogram was in a mobile breast screening unit where I went into a small, private changing area, got undressed from the waist up, and waited to be called in. The female member of staff was lovely and reassuring and manoeuvred my breast into position on the machine. I’m not going to lie it was painful for a few seconds whilst the scan was being taken but it was soon over once both breasts had been scanned twice.
“I did feel some discomfort for a few hours afterward and my breasts were a bit tender the next day but taking paracetamol helped. It’s an experience that can take you by surprise and is uncomfortable. I didn’t know what to expect which is why I wanted to share my experience with other women. I want to normalise breast screening and provide an insight into what to expect. I also want to remind those women who may have been put off by a previous experience, that it is really important to get checked regularly. A few moments of discomfort every three years are worth it to potentially find breast cancer at an earlier stage when it is easier to treat.”
Anyone registered with a GP as female between the ages of 50 and 71 is invited by the NHS to attend a mammogram so they can have their breasts screened for cancer.
Dr Neil Smith, GP clinical lead for cancer in Lancashire and South Cumbria, said: “Cancer, unfortunately, impacts most of us at some point in our lives and it is vital that people attend screenings when they are invited to do so. Breast screening saves around 1,400 lives each year in England and is one of the best ways to spot a cancer that is too small to feel or see. The procedure takes around six minutes and the majority of women attending for screening are given the all-clear. For those who do require further treatment, finding it sooner makes it more likely that treatment will be successful.”
As well as attending regular breast screening, it’s important you know how your breasts normally look and feel. Cancers can develop between mammograms. Be aware of symptoms and keep checking your breasts every month. See your GP if you notice any changes that aren’t normal for you, especially if the changes are only in one breast.
Breast changes to look out for include:
- changes in appearance, size or outline of either breast, especially those caused by arm movement;
- any puckering, dimpling or redness of the skin or veins that stand out more than usual;
- any lumps or thickening in either breast that feels different from the other breast;
- any swelling or lumps under your armpit or around your collarbone;
- changes to your nipples, including nipples that have become pulled in, changed shape or show signs of discharge, bleeding, rash or crusted, flaky skin;
Breast pain is not usually a symptom of breast cancer.
These symptoms don’t necessarily mean that you have breast cancer, but if you have them, make an appointment to see your GP immediately.