herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

M&S cancer screening saved my life, says mum

health

A BRAVE mum has said Marks & Spencers saved her life after a company employee screening programme discovered she had breast cancer.

Cabra woman Paula Fanning (47), who has worked for the retailing giant for nearly 20 years, said the diagnosis sent her "rocketing into a rollercoaster of fear", but she is very grateful to her employers that she found out she has cancer.

The company offers employees over the age of 40 free health screening every two years - a service that Paula said is vital.

"There has been a lot of detections because of it," said 47-year-old single mum-of-two who was diagnosed last June.

"I need to thank M&S ... they need to know that they saved my life," she said.

"I was only 46 at the time and I wouldn't have had the national screening tests until I was 50.

"I would never have known I had a lump either, I was always too nervous to check," she said.

Check

"I went for my mammogram and two days later I got a text telling me to contact the doctors immediately.

"They told me I had a 3.5-inch tumor on the left side of my breast and that I had to go and get a biopsy straight away.

"It has made me realise that women need to check themselves all the time. I can't stress that enough."

In a double blow to the family, Paula's elderly mother was battling ovarian cancer at the very same time.

Paula feared telling her two sons Daire (17) and Killian (14).

"I am a single mum and the boys need both me and their granny," she said.

Paula underwent surgery to remove the lump only to discover that the disease had spread to her lymph nodes. She has also undergone chemotherapy sessions that ultimately caused her to lose her hair.

But she has turned the experience into something positive.

"I was really worried about how I would look with no hair ... so my family started trying on my wig and it broke the ice.

"Then I got the idea for Strike a Pose Against Cancer," she said, explaining her fundraising drive on behalf of the Mater Foundation and Arc Cancer Support Services.

Paula has encouraged people to do a "funny pose" in her wig.

To date over 280 people have donned the golden blonde hairpiece raising more than €10,000 in just 10 weeks.

Anyone who'd like to support her fundraising can find out more at Paula's Strike a Pose Against Cancer Facebook page.

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