The Big Bus saved my life
Tuesday, 29 October 2013
A SILVERBRIDGE woman whose breast cancer was detected on Action Cancer's Big Bus, is encouraging other women to use the service saying it saved her life. Majella McKenna has become an Action Cancer Ambassador as the charity celebrates its 40th anniversary, in the hope that other women will avail of its breast screening service.
Mother of three, Majella, said: "When I was 40 I had my first mammogram. This was on board the Big Bus when it visited my place of work at Newry and Mourne District Council to conduct breast screenings and MOT Health Checks with the council employees. The staff on the bus were friendly and put me at ease. The mammogram itself felt slightly uncomfortable but only for a few seconds, and the whole process took only 15 minutes. I was relieved when I received a letter within a few weeks saying that everything was clear.
“It was on my second visit to the Big Bus that my breast cancer was detected. I received a letter from Action Cancer in September 2011, reminding me that it was time to book my routine breast screening appointment. Shortly afterwards I saw it advertised in my local paper that the Big Bus was coming to Kelly's Hardware in Warrenpoint, this visit was open to the public so I phoned up and booked myself an appointment.
“Within the two weeks following my appointment I received a letter from Action Cancer saying that further tests were needed and that I had been referred to the Belfast City Hospital. I naturally felt very frightened. I drove up to Belfast and visited the hospital where the breast nurse explained to me that a shadow had been detected in my left breast and that further investigation was needed. That day I had another mammogram, a needle biopsy, a tissue biopsy and an ultrasound, it was all very overwhelming. I then waited for a week before my results came back."
Accompanied by a friend back to the City Hospital, Majella was given the devastating news that she had breast cancer. She was told the cancer was situated so far back that she would not have found it by self checking. Thankfully it was detected at an early stage and was treatable.
Majella then had a lumpectomy in January 2012 which would be followed by radiotherapy. During the operation some of Majella's lymph nodes were removed to test to see if the cancer had spread.
“Following the operation the Oncologist told me that I was border line for needing chemotherapy. Being a single mum of three kids I needed to think of my future. Having done some research and after seeking the advice of friends I decided to go for it. Having the treatment was a struggle and as my hair started to fall out my confidence took a big hit but the whole time I kept thinking I'm doing this for my kids," she said.
“In January of this year I had a mammogram and I am pleased to report that I am cancer free. The next step for me is to potentially look at reconstructive surgery. My journey has been a difficult one but I am still here and my kids still have a mum. I can't thank Action Cancer enough. The Big Bus really did save my life," she said.
Majella is encouraging women aged 40-49 and 70 plus, who are not part of the NHS screening programme, to book a screening with Action Cancer today.
“A 15 minute appointment either on board the Big Bus or at Action Cancer House in Belfast could save your life," Majella said. To book an appointment call 028 9080 3344 or visit www.actioncancer.org
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