A breast cancer survivor has spoken about how a letter inviting her to a mammogram appointment potentially saved her life, as she thanked staff at Bolton’s Breast Unit for their “phenomenal” care and support.
Janet Willcock, 71, from Bury, was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2022 after she took up her invite for a routine mammogram appointment.
Within three weeks of receiving her letter, Janet had attended her scan which found she was living with breast cancer.
It was a shock to have to face up to it, but we found the strength and we were determined that it wouldn’t intrude into our lives. We can honestly say that we managed that incredibly well. The care and support was phenomenal.
By the end of January Janet had received surgery to remove the cancer, with the course of radiotherapy finished by the start of April, something Janet puts down to not delaying going for her scan.
Do not ignore the opportunity for a mammogram. I thought I was invincible, that it’s not going to get me. Then you suddenly find yourself on this treadmill.
“I nearly delayed the appointment because I had a bad back at the time. I am so glad that I went because another appointment might had been further down the line. If you need to go, go, it’s important that you take up the offer.
“I can sit here and smile because I feel so lucky. I feel so lucky to have met who I met, and to come out of it with a positive outcome.
Janet has praised Bolton’s Breast Unit for the care she received, and has thanked the staff she met along the way at Royal Bolton Hospital.
It’s so emotional returning here, as it’s been an amazing journey. I’ve said to people if you have got to do the breast cancer journey, then mine has been fantastic.
“Everyone I met was so welcoming and caring. Even down to the porter who took us to nuclear medicine. I hadn’t been able to eat ahead of my scan and the natural route would take me past the restaurant. He found a different route so that the smell of food wouldn’t tease me, I thought how lovely it was. Everybody has been amazing, supportive and kind. The whole process has been like clockwork.
To show her thanks and gratitude to staff, Janet has donated a Dyson Pure Cool fan through Our Bolton NHS Charity for the Breast Unit waiting room to improve comfort for staff and patients.
I was touched by the care I received. General advice is in a book or a leaflet, but the staff here were providing care and advice that felt personal to me.
“That’s why I wanted to donate something that could be benefit everybody, and for it to be something tangible. It’s the little things that can make your whole journey a lot more comfortable.
Bolton NHS Foundation Trust provides screening for women aged 50-71 once every three years in the areas covered by the Bolton, Bury and Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Groups.
For more information about the wide-range of services provided, visit the Trust’s website.