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A woman is urging others to attend cancer screenings after an appointment led to the detection of two types of the disease in her body.
Jacqueline McKee, from Belfast, had attended Action Cancer-run mammograms every two years since she turned 40.
She missed a scan during the COVID-19 pandemic but attended one in August 2022 where it was discovered that she had stage one breast cancer.
As reported by Belfast Live, further hospital tests led to a doctor ordering a CT scan for the then 49-year-old.
She recalled: “Four days after my screening, I got the letter and was expecting it to be the way it had been in previous times, just saying they were happy to report everything was fine. But unfortunately, everything wasn’t fine.
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“A week later, I was in the city hospital, I had the initial exam then went to the mammogram suite where I had an ultrasound and biopsy. You find out that day.
“My doctor came out and we went in, the breast cancer nurse came in, and they told me I had breast cancer. I just said ‘Thank you so much’ and went to lift my purse and leave.
“That day was surreal, I didn’t even really mention it later on, then went back the following week and met my surgeon. I had a bit of a meltdown.
“My oncologist phoned and said he was sending me for a CT scan, it was the Thursday before Christmas, and he said he would phone after.
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“He didn’t call and I said I thought there was something wrong, so the day after Boxing Day, my phone went off at 9am on the button.”
The CT scan had revealed Jacqueline had renal cancer – also known as kidney cancer.
Luckily she underwent a successful surgery to remove her kidney four months later.
“Being diagnosed with breast cancer 100 percent saved my life because in 18 months’ time, the renal cancer would have been stage four and I would’ve been in palliative care, and there would’ve been nothing they could do,” she said.
She encouraged others to attend cancer screenings.
“Early detection really makes all the difference,” Jacqueline said.
“As I was attending screenings every two years, they knew I didn’t have breast cancer when I was 46, so there was that window of when the tumour in my breast was there.
“I was stage one, I was able to have radiotherapy and a lumpectomy, but if I didn’t have that the renal cancer wouldn’t have been caught, there were no symptoms. The renal cancer was more shocking.
“Without my family and work friends, and the medical team from the moment I was diagnosed with breast cancer to where I’m sitting now, I would have been lost. Everybody is there to help you.
“I’m cancer-free at the moment and will hopefully stay that way. It’s a free service at Action Cancer, it’s ten minutes out of your life – it takes longer to get your hair and nails done.
“I was stage one, early detection is key, I didn’t have to have chemotherapy or a bigger surgery than what I had.”
Women in Northern Ireland aged between 40 and 49, and 70 or over can book an appointment online at actioncancer.org or by calling 028 9080 3344.
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