As part of our Tickled Pink breast cancer campaign we’re teaming up with charity CoppaFeel! alongside our existing charity partner Breast Cancer Now to spread the message about how important it is to regularly check yourself.
CoppaFeel!’s message is that regularly checking yourself gives you the best possible chance for an early diagnosis – which research shows saves lives. They want everyone – particularly young people – to know the signs and symptoms to be aware of.
It’s a cause close to the heart of our South Woodham Ferrers store’s community champion Lisa Kelly, who says that while our attention is quite rightly focused on combatting the coronavirus pandemic we all still need to make the time to feel for anything unusual.
Lisa was diagnosed with breast and lung cancer a year ago – and because she was inspired by the stickers we’d put on a range of products reminding people to have a good feel her cancer was caught early when she checked herself one day after work.
Lisa, who’s self-isolating at home during the lockdown, is making a good recovery and is clear of breast cancer.
She said: “This is such an important message and it’s really simple. Check yourself often and if you’ve got any concerns, speak to your doctor. It saved my life and getting an early diagnosis could save lots more people.
“It was a year last Saturday when I was diagnosed. I remember it so well because it was my brother Ted’s birthday. I hoped that would be a good sign, though I knew in my heart that something was wrong.
"I was doing the activity telling people how to check themselves and it prompted me to check myself. So I had a feel and found a lump in my breast.
"I went to my GP and then had more tests and they found out I had cancer in my other breast too. They then did more tests and they found out I had lung cancer as well. I had a really rare form of cancer called MALT lymphoma.
“I had a double lumpectomy and seven months of chemotherapy. In addition to that I picked up e-coli and sepsis and I was on a drip for 10 days, but it was all worth it to be able to ring that bell and say my breast cancer had gone. Now I know the true meaning of Tickled Pink.
"Apparently I wasn’t expected to have survived it, so the hospital want me to go to Great Ormond Street to find out what genes I have that helped me get over it.”
Lisa, who’s 69, has two daughters, Tina and Anna, and four grandchildren, Ben, Josh, Amelie and Elouise.
She says that spending more time and having adventures with them were a big focus during her treatment, as is getting back to doing the job she loves in the local community.
She said: "I want to live. My husband Alan died four years ago but I have still got lots of things I want to do with my family. I’m so thankful for the Be Your Breast Friend messages last year. If I hadn’t done what they were telling me things could have been a lot worse and I might not be here now.
"How lucky am I to have got this far? I’ve got extra time and it’s such a gift."
Lisa says the support from Asda South Woodham Ferrers general store manager Neil Roots (pictured above with Lisa) and the rest of her colleagues made a huge difference during her treatment.
She said: "Neil's been brilliant throughout this and I really do appreciate his support. He's done lots of really thoughtful things, like getting me a fan when I was really hot last summer during my chemo. My colleagues have been amazing too – I got about 100 get well cards from them all!"
Lisa returned to work earlier this year – even finding time to host a fundraising tombola for Tickled Pink – but is self-isolating at home for 12 weeks because she's classed as extremely vulnerable. She says she can't wait to get back to work.
“Now I’m better I want to get back into my job more and make more of a difference in the community," said Lisa. "It’s frustrating having to self-isolate, but after the year I’ve had it’s a small price to pay.
"I receive a parcel from the Government every Monday, which is very helpful I have an Asda shopping slot every Thursday again this is very helpful stops me stressing and makes me a little more independent.
"My medication is delivered to me. On Wednesday I will have a consultation with my doctor over the phone rather than go to hospital. I am really bored, so I have been ringing round all the elderly people I know to make sure they are okay. I really want to get back to work as soon as it’s safe.”
CoppaFeel! are on a mission to stamp out the late detection and misdiagnosis of breast cancer by ensuring that young people know the signs and symptoms of the disease, know what their boobs look and feel like normally, check their boobs regularly from a younger age and have the confidence to see a doctor if they notice any changes. The Tickled Pink partnership aims to support as many people as possible who have been affected by breast cancer through the funding of world-class research and life-changing support services, as well as driving behavioural change in customers and colleagues, encouraging regular breast checking and providing education on the signs & symptoms of breast cancer.
For more info on CoppaFeel!, please visit www.coppafeel.org
For more info on Breast Cancer Now, please visit www.breastcancernow.org