Cambridgeshire Police Federation is urging members of all genders to make time to check their bodies for symptoms this Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
One in two people will be diagnosed with cancer and one in eight will be diagnosed with breast cancer. But breast cancer is one the most curable cancers, with a 94 per cent survival rate, and is the furthest advanced in terms of treatment programmes.
Cambridgeshire Police Federation chair Liz Groom said: “Breast cancer awareness has come a long way in recent years, but it is still a reality that we don’t check ourselves for signs often enough. It can be difficult to remember, especially in a busy job like policing, but catching breast cancer early can make a huge difference.”
Two Federation members have shared their experiences of being diagnosed and treated in hopes that it will empower others to keep an eye on their own bodies.
On New Year’s Eve 2018, Met Police Detective Chief Superintendent Tara McGovern found a lump in her breast. Two weeks later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. At just 11, Tara had tragically lost her mother to breast cancer and so began regularly checking her own breasts every month.
Tara says: “When I found the lump, I knew it wasn’t right and I acted straight away. It was small and my surgeon was surprised I had even noticed it. But because I understood and knew my own body, I was found it incredibly early and even though it was aggressive, I got through it.”
Tiff Lynch, Federation National Board Member and former chair of Leicestershire Police Federation, was diagnosed with breast cancer last year.
Scrolling social media one day led to Tiff doing a spur of the moment check of her breasts.
Tiff says: “July 9th of last year, I will never forget the date, I was flicking through Twitter and I saw Jacquie Beltrao talking about the importance of checking. I thought maybe I should do it. And there they were. Two pea-sized, hard lumps. I didn’t know how aggressive it was or if I had found it early or late. I could tell everyone around me wanted to ask me ‘so what happens next’ and I just didn’t know. Because I didn’t have the answers. But I knew I was going to fight it.”
Tara and Tiff are both passionate about highlighting the importance of knowing your own body and regularly checking yourself to catch anything and get treatment as soon as possible – simple steps which can save your life.
Tiff explains: “We have to take away fear and worry because the importance of self-checking has to be there. No-one should be scared or embarrassed and there shouldn’t be a fear of finding something, because if you have found something you can get it checked and sorted. Get to know your breasts, because once you know them, any changes will be easier to spot. Get on the phone to your GP the minute you’ve found something or if you’re worried about something.”
In a message to anyone who may be newly diagnosed, or worried about a possible diagnosis, Tara and Tiff say: “It’s going to be OK. It will be a rough ride, it will be tough and you will feel pretty lousy. But there is nothing that will be thrown at you that you won’t be able to deal with. It’s going to be OK.”
Tara and Tiff will be sharing more about their journeys, the Change and Check campaign and their advice in a series of short videos through October on the national Federation social media channels.