After being convinced by her friends to get checked out, retired district nurse Jean Walsh was given the ‘devastating’ news that she had breast cancer.
Now, more than three years on, she is promoting breast screening. And she’s even being supported by a Hartlepool business raising money for the cause.
It was 2019 when Jean, now 72-years-old from Hartlepool, found a lump in her breast. Convinced that it was nothing to worry about, it was more than a year later when she sought professional support and attended a mammogram at the University Hospital of Hartlepool – all because of the influence of her friends.
In October 2020, Jean was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She said: “I just thought, it can’t be cancer – it’s not in my family.
“It was only due to the perseverance of my friends that I went for a mammogram. And I was really shocked when they told me the lump was 14cm.”
Now three years clear, Jean is encouraging others not to ignore symptoms. She regularly teaches in fitness and dance classes at a Hartlepool gym and Peterlee Pavillion and uses these sessions to encourage breast examination.
Fundraising with Sorella Boutique
Jean is being supported by Sorella Boutique, where she is a customer, in Hartlepool. The store raises money to support breast screening across the Tees Valley.
Sorella has so far raised more than £100,000 for charities, including our breast unit – in support of Jean and many others fighting breast cancer. The Trust leads on breast screening across the Tees Valley and parts of County Durham.
Jean said: “Sorella is amazing in their charity work.
“Cancer is something you have to try and live with and it has a big impact as well on husbands whose wives are diagnosed. I’ve had so much support from my friends and family. And I’ve gained a lot of emotional support from breast support groups online – they’re my extended family.
“The joy I get from giving back to my local community is indescribable.”
The North Tees and Hartlepool team diagnose around 360 cancers per year – almost one a day – through their mobile asymptomatic breast screening service. The team also carries out around 180 symptomatic appointments (referred by GPs) per week across North Tees and Hartlepool hospital sites.