Keeping abreast of the news

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and it does what it says on the can - raises awareness of breast cancer.

But it works on several levels. Primarily folk are encouraged to raise funds for Breast Cancer Research. Research covers a wide remit. It could be research into finding cures, treatment and diagnosis. It might also be research into developing existing methods of early detection. In this country women aged 50 and above will be called in for regular mammograms. The technology that's used in those mammograms, the training of technicians to recognise early signs of cancer, also rely on research too.

The complex machines that complete mammograms are being improved. Digital images provide clearer information, increasing early detection. My local hospital is raising funds to get one installed - they aren't cheap.

Magazines will be carrying articles about breast awareness - how regular checking may reveal irregularities, how those issues are resolved.

And of course there's the fund-raising too.

In an office I visit, a package of ideas was received in September. Wearing pink to the office and paying a fine was a simple suggestion to encourage workers to make a donation.

There can't be many women in this country that aren't affected by breast cancer - from a routine mammogram to cancer itself.

The picture I've chosen to accompany this post is of me - wearing pink. It was taken in Dunster, Somerset in March 2009. I had met up with a penpal for the first time, Celia. It was one of those days that could have gone either way - been grey and cold or warm and sunny. A mist had burned away and we met at 4, in time for tea and cakes. We drank the tea and ate those cakes, washed down with the warm sun.

That picture is important to me for so many reasons. Primarily it records my first meeting with Celia. But it has other associations too. Just before that visit to Exmoor I'd had a series of tests - scans and biopsies. I knew that when I returned home I would receive my diagnosis. I'd already been told I'd need an operation. But I didn't know what would be involved and what treatment I may need afterwards.

Celia's a nurse and a person with a good soul. But I didn't mention this to her. To me it wasn't relevant to that meeting. I hope from that photo you will see how happy I was - and am!

A week later I was told I needed a mastectomy. I wrote about this experience on another Blog. Check it out if you feel you'd like to know more. Don't worry, it's not scary, it's often funny - just like my life.

But here it is in a nutshell. I needed a mastectomy to remove a massive area of pre-cancerous cells. After the operation tests revealed that no further treatment was necessary. There aren't many weeks when I don't think about that operation - but always those thoughts are positive. I count my blessings that I checked out a lump, had a mammogram, had biopsies and then had an operation.

Breast Cancer Awareness month might come round every year, but lumps and bumps don't keep a diary. The lump that took me on my journey was a cyst. But it had to be checked out and that's when the nasty cells were discovered. Most lumps are benign like mine - but thank goodness I took that positive step to get it checked.

There are too many good causes, charities hoping for a donation. I'm not asking you to donate to this one, just be aware.