Tyne Dock’s Vicky Copp was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in February this year after being invited to her first mammogram appointment at the age of 50.
After hearing the shock news, a family friend also made an appointment and she was also diagnosed with cancer.
“She said to me, ‘you saved my life,'” Vicky said.
“It is so important, even in these times of Covid, that people go and get tested. “
Vicky, the NSA’s senior financial director, admits she hardly attended her routine breast cancer screening appointment, believing the coronavirus pandemic would mean a long wait for an appointment.
“I had just turned 50 when I was called in for a regular mammogram,” she said.
“I almost didn’t because of Covid because I thought the waiting list would be huge, but I managed to get booked and got my first in January.
“I was called back and didn’t think about it, but then I was diagnosed with breast cancer.”
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The news came as a huge shock to Vicky, who had just recently battled the coronavirus in December 2020.
After undergoing surgery to remove the tumor at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead in March, she embarked on 10 radiation therapy sessions at the Northern Center for Cancer Care in Newcastle.
“It was pretty invasive breast cancer and it was growing pretty quickly,” Vicky said.
“[But] if I hadn’t had my first mammogram, I might have been in a completely different situation.
“I was very lucky to be diagnosed and treated so effectively and quickly – it took 22 days from my very first mammogram to being diagnosed.
“I want to ask people to take a test [or check-up] if they didn’t go.
“It was my very first mammogram and it saved my life.”
The NHS says mammograms used for breast cancer screening can detect cancers when they are too small to see or feel.
All women aged 50 to 71 registered with a general practitioner are invited to a systematic screening for breast cancer every three years.
Women between the ages of 25 and 64 are also encouraged to have their cervix screened – also called a smear – every three to five years.
Vicky has now learned that she is cancer free, but will need to take medication daily for 10 years and have annual mammograms for the next five years.