People urged to act on cancer concerns despite Covid

A BREAST cancer survivor has urged people not to let the Covid-19 crisis put them off contacting their doctor if they discover a lump on their body.

Donna McGavigan (52) a nurse from Strabane is speaking out on World Cancer Day in the hope of raising awareness of the importance of acting quickly if someone finds a lump on their body.

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak the majority of health appointments have been moved to telephone calls, unless it is an emergency.


Donna has urged people to contact their doctor as soon as they have a suspicion as she credits early detection and Action Cancer with saving her life when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Donna was diagnosed with early stages of breast cancer in summer 2018 after she used Action Cancer’s screening services for women from 40 to 49-years-old.

The consultant found a two millimetre lump in her left breast and two further two millimetre lumps in her right breast as well.

Unfortunately, both Donna’s parents died of cancer – her mum died of breast cancer aged 43, and due to her family history Donna decided to have a full mastectomy in both her breasts, and had a reconstruction with implants done at the same time.

She has since made a full recovery and is back working full time as a nurse, and is now raising awareness of the importance of acting quickly when it comes to cancer.

Donna said, “I had an appointment with my oncologist there two months ago and he told me that if I had have been caught six weeks later, it would have been a completely ball game.

“It is all about early detection. Do your checks and look after yourself. If you find something, do not wait. Keep pushing until you get seen, especially during these times.

“Doctors will see you – if you ring them and tell them your concerns, they will see you.

“Do not wait – it could make a massive difference,” said Donna.

Donna lived in America for over 20 years from her early 20s and she had yearly mammograms done.

When she returned home to live, she was shocked to discover that the NHS didn’t screen women until they were in their 50s.

With her family history, she decided to avail of Action Cancer’s screening services for women aged from 40 to 49.

She credits the charity with saving her life as her cancer was quickly detected following the scan.

She explained, “Action Cancer saved my life and if it hadn’t been for them and this service, it would have been a completely different story for me.

“I had been going to Action Cancer House for the screening religiously every two years since returning from the States, with my friend, Frances Jack.

“The mammograms were straight forward and I never worried about them. The whole process takes so little time and is nothing to worry or get anxious about.

“Since my operation, life is good and I am very busy and keep active.

“I am so thankful to Action Cancer for their screening which at the end of the day could have saved my life,” said Donna.

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