Pontefract grandmother diagnosed with incurable breast cancer reveals impact disease has had on family
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Janet Moffatt, of Fitzwilliam, Pontefract, attended a GP appointment in June 2020 after finding a lump about the size of a sprout in her right armpit.
She said a doctor believed it was a lipoma – a fatty tumour – which could be removed after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Janet phoned the surgery that September. The 59-year-old said she was told doctors were not performing minor procedures.
The mum-of-three and grandmother-of-six attended a further appointment in May 2021 after the lump started protruding more and the appearance of her breast changed.
She was referred to hospital specialists who diagnosed breast cancer which had spread to her liver.
Janet underwent four courses of chemotherapy to shrink her breast tumour and is receiving injections to slow the growth of her cancer, increasing her survival time.
Forced to give up work as a cleaner, she instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate whether her cancer could have been diagnosed sooner.
She has now joined her legal team in supporting World Cancer Day and has spoken for the first time about the impact her diagnosis has had.
Victoria Moss, the expert medical negligence solicitor at Irwin Mitchell representing Janet, said: “Janet and her family are devastated by her diagnosis. Understandably she has a number of questions about her diagnosis and what the future holds.
“Through our work we sadly see the impact that breast cancer can have and how early detection and treatment are key to beating it.
“We’re continuing to support Janet as we investigate her concerns to provide her with the answers she deserves.
“In the meantime she hopes that by sharing her story Janet can help others be aware of the signs and symptoms or breast cancer as well the importance of people regularly examining themselves, taking part in the screening programme and seeking medical advice if needed.”
Janet said: “I was in the shower and noticed the lump under my right arm. When I touched it there was no pain and no altered sensation. However, it was already the size of a Brussel sprout and I thought it was best to get checked out.
“After I attended my appointment I felt reassured and even more so when I checked myself further at home and didn’t find anything else.
“I carried on as normal because there appeared to have been no cause for concern. After a couple of months the lump had got a little bigger but wasn’t painful. I thought it best to check with the surgery again but was told they weren’t performing minor surgeries.
“After a few months I started to notice changes so I went back to the surgery. A nurse looked at the lump and believed it may be breast cancer.
“From there everything seemed to move so quickly. I was booked in at the hospital for an urgent appointment. By this time I feared the worst but nothing prepared me for when I was told I had cancer.
“What made things even harder to come to terms with was when I was advised about a treatment plan but it was stressed that any treatment would be palliative and nothing would be curative.
“The chemotherapy was hard both physically and emotionally. Each round of treatment seemed to get harder, I had less energy and nothing seemed to help with my sickness.
“I’ve been told that I reacted well with regards to shrinking the tumour so am now on medication to try and shrink this further. However, I may have to have chemotherapy in the future.
“I’m trying to remain upbeat and positive. I’m still young and want to be here for my family and create more memories with them but it’s sometimes difficult when I face an uncertain future.
“I have a number of concerns about what happened during the time when I was seeking advice before my diagnosis and feel I deserve answers.
“By sharing my story I hope that I can help others. It’s important people feel they don’t have to suffer alone as help and support is out there.”
World Cancer Day is an annual campaign on February 4. Organised by the Union for International Cancer Control. It aims to raise awareness of the signs of cancer, reduce deaths and increase access to life-saving treatment.