Kiosk colleague Jeanette Lane from our Dagenham store knows from personal experience how important it is to attend a mammogram appointment – so she's fully backing an initiative to set up mobile breast screening units in Asda car parks across the country.
Following years of declining screening attendance in England, Breast Cancer Now, NHS England and Asda will provide new, alternative locations for these units units to be used by the NHS Breast Screening programme, run by NHS England.
Jeanette was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago following a routine mammogram and is now urging anyone who is invited to attend a routine breast screening that they make sure they go.
Jeanette, who's 54 and has worked at the store for 25 years, said: "The one thing I would say to all men and women is to keep checking yourself regularly, and don’t miss any routine mammograms. If I hadn’t attended my mammogram appointment I would never have known.
"I had a mammogram when I was 49 due to family history and then I got an invite when I was 50. I very nearly didn't so to that one, as I thought as I'd had one the previous year there would be no point but I did thankfully, or I may not be here today."
Following her mammogram in March 2018, the results found invasive breast cancer in one breast and non-invasive breast cancer in the other breast. Following numerous biopsies, it was confirmed she had invasive lobular breast cancer.
She said: "I was expecting the all clear, so it came as a complete shock to be told I had breast cancer. It was devastating; very, very scary."
Jeanette then had biopsies on her lymph nodes in July, and in August 2018, had a double mastectomy with immediate first stages of reconstruction, followed by radiotherapy. She then went on to have full reconstruction surgery in 2019.
She's still taking medication, but is all clear and hopes for the medication to end in September this year.
Jeanette has been married to Darren for 31 years and has three children, James, Sarah and Frank, and six grand-children. She said: "They have been so supportive, as have my colleagues at work.
“I’m really proud to see the breast screening units become more accessible and in Asda car parks – make sure you go for yours! Everyone goes shopping, so go and get your groceries and then get your mammogram done. It's a brilliant idea.
"If you do get an invite for a mammogram then please, please go. I'm so glad that I did. I've got six grandchildren that I want to see grow up."
We have made our car parks in specific regions available, in a bid to increase convenience and visibility of vital breast screening services in England.
The announcement was made as part of an Asda Parliamentary event, hosted by Matt Vickers MP, which focused on supporting community organisations, utilising store space and fundraising for national charities.
This initiative launches in our 27th year of supporting breast cancer charities through our Tickled Pink partnership. Central to this is a commitment to support early diagnosis of the disease by helping normalise breast awareness, encouraging a million more people in the UK to check their chests more regularly and raising funds for Breast Cancer Now and CoppaFeel!
We currently host three mobile breast screening vans in England, as well as one in Scotland, and look forward to working with regional commissioning teams across England to identify further locations where mobile breast screening vans can make a difference.
Jo Warner, Senior Director Corporate Responsibility and ESG at Asda, said: "With breast screening attendance declining in recent years, we knew we could do something practical to help. Opening up space in our car parks to host mobile screening units felt like a natural extension to three decades of fundraising and breast cancer awareness raising efforts – and our hope is it will help to improve visibility and convenience of screening and ultimately drive earlier diagnosis and better outcomes for those affected by breast cancer.”
Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said: “We’re delighted that NHS England and our long-term partner, Asda, are working together to improve the convenience of vital breast screening, with Asda offering many of their car parks as locations for breast screening vans in England. Breast screening is a key tool for detecting breast cancer early as, critically, the sooner the disease is diagnosed, the more likely treatment is to be successful. As such, we welcome this important initiative which will help improve people’s awareness of breast screening and could provide this vital service in new areas of the community.”
Dr Nisha Sharma, Director of Breast Screening and Clinical Lead for breast imaging at Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust, said: “Breast screening is a vital tool in detecting cancers at an earlier stage, which can make all the difference, and we’re so pleased to have this local breast screening mobile unit in Morley Asda car park available, providing a convenient and accessible option to so many women.”