Retired NHS nurse Patricia Minchin, now 75, from Hertfordshire, is one of hundreds of thousands of women whose letter inviting them to a breast cancer screening failed to arrive.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer two years after her letter should have been delivered.
I was absolutely devastated when I found the lumps in my breast.
I wasn’t expecting it. After my letter didn’t arrive in 2009, I complained to my GP and managed to have the scan in 2010.
A year late, but at least we got there and importantly I was fine.
When my second letter should have arrived in 2013, when I was 70, I thought I must have misunderstood the age cut-off and that was that. I believed I was out of the ‘most at risk’ age for breast cancer.
I went about my life for two years – but I’d been lulled into a false sense of security.
I now know I should have been sent a letter. That letter would have lead to a scan that could well have caught my cancer early and saved me from the harsh levels of cancer treatment that I had to endure.
After a visit to my GP, scans, biopsies – lots of biopsies – I was finally diagnosed on my 73rd birthday.
I had developed an aggressive form of cancer with three tumours.
What followed was a mastectomy, Herceptin treatment, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, three hospitalisations as my body became more susceptible to illness and eventually that the treatment had damaged my lungs.
I’ve been left with a problem with my lungs, likely from the intense radiotherapy I underwent as doctors tried to save my life.
My illness was a terrible strain on my husband, who took me along to all my appointments. My calendar used to be a mass of red spots, marks I used to keep track of all my treatment times.
I’m married with four children and five grandchildren. We’ve discussed how unlucky I was to miss out on my second screening, but now we know I wasn’t ineligible, I was missed out.
But I’m pragmatic. I was a nurse and I know the NHS like the back of my hand. I know these things happen but I do wonder the NHS is dealing with so many people – can it cope?
I do not want to speak ill of the NHS. I cannot fault the treatment they gave me but things like this make you wonder what else is going wrong.
I’m disappointed. I was angry that Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, said that there wasn’t certain evidence that mammograms weren’t effective for people over 70.
And also when he said they didn’t want to announce it earlier because it would cause panic or something, I thought that was pathetic.
Ultimately, if I had had a mammogram when I was 70 it may have picked up something very small and I would not have gone through that whole traumatic time.
From – SkyNews