A Denny breast cancer survivor is urging women to seek help if they have any suspicious symptoms.
Mum-of-four Lynsey Ritchie knows only too well how important it is to seek medical help.
The 44-year-old owes her life to treatment she received after being diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer almost two years ago.
Lynsey made the plea as it emerged that almost 1000 fewer women have received treatment for breast cancer since the coronavirus pandemic started.
Analysis by Cancer Research also shows that since the pandemic began, an estimated 3900 fewer people started treatment for all cancer types in Scotland, with breast cancer representing almost a quarter of these “missing cancers”.
There are also fears that progress in breast cancer research, which had made huge strides, could slow down due to the impact of the pandemic on cancer services and on funding for research.
Lynsey had been breastfeeding her youngest son Odhran when she first visited her GP after noticing pain and a lump under her arm. Hospital tests showed there was also a lump in her breast.
She opted to have both breasts removed and held a party for them days before her operation.
After 15 doses of chemotherapy, Lynsey was preparing for a double mastectomy when she decided to throw a “thanks for the mammaries” party in their honour.
She ordered a “boob cake” and invited friends and family to celebrate finishing her chemo and as a thank-you to her breasts for their work in feeding her own children and many others from her donations to the milk bank for premature babies.
Lynsey, mum to nine-year-old Cailean, Brodie (7), Darragh (5), and Odhran (3), said: “I can totally understand people might not want to go to their doctor because of Covid.
“I do worry that I probably would have done the same if I’d found a lump in the last year.
“That feels really scary because if I hadn’t gone to my GP when I did then I wouldn’t be here today. If I had waited, wondering whether to bother the doctor, it could have been too late.
“I feel so very blessed to be here for my boys. And they’re blessed to still have me.
“Covid hasn’t made cancer go away.
“A cancer diagnosis is life changing but it doesn’t necessarily mean a death sentence.”
Cancer Research UK’s senior external affairs manager for Scotland, Andy Glyde said: “Last year’s pause in breast cancer screening services, people putting off contacting their GP and the backlog of patients waiting for a diagnosis after having noticed a symptom, may have contributed to these ‘missing cancers’.”