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We beat cancer, now help us raise pounds 100,000.

Byline: Emma Brady

Health ReporterTwo Warwickshire women, who have beaten breast cancer, are leading a campaign to raise money for vital equipment at a new pounds 4.7 million oncology unit.

Cancer patients served by Warwick Hospital have to travel to Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry to access some treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Virginia Haynes and Patricia Harrison, who live in Rowington, near Henley-inArden, were among those forced to seek treatment elsewhere as Warwick Hospital does not have all necessary services under one roof.

The new Warwick Hospital unit, which will include a dedicated breast cancer facility, will remedy part of that problem. Work on the complex starts soon and it is expected to open in summer 2006.

Mrs Haynes and Mrs Harrison are now part of the Action Taken Against Cancer (ATAC) campaign to raise money for a pounds 100,000 digital mammogram machine for the new centre. Mrs Harrison - first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001 - said the machine would allow doctors to identify any abnormalities, not just physical lumps.

The 69-year-old said: 'I had no idea anything was wrong with my breasts until I went for a routine check-up. A few months beforehand, my dog had jumped up at me and bruised my chest and I thought nothing more of it.

'When my doctor suggested I go for a mammogram I just thought it was routine, but then she told me I had a lump on my right breast. It didn't sink in until the consultant confirmed there was one and that it was cancerous.

'As it was only small, I opted to have a lumpectomy, but the overwhelming thought I had was how would I tell my husband that I had breast cancer.'

After the operation Mrs Harrison was told the lump had been successfully removed, but 12 months later a scan showed deposits in her left breast.

'It wasn't cancerous but it could well have become cancerous six months down the line, so I opted to have a mastectomy of my left breast,' she explained. ' I don't see the point in moaning about it because nobody really wants to hear.' Mrs Haynes, aged 57, had a similar experience in September 2000 when she went for a routine mammogram that detected abnormal cells in her left breast.

She opted for a mastectomy, but later underwent reconstructive surgery 'so I managed to get my cleavage back'.

The ATAC campaign started life shortly after Mrs Haynes was first diagnosed and joined forces with Mrs Harrison.

'We thought if people could read about what's happened to us they will see why we need their help to raise money for the unit,' said Mrs Haynes.

'Rowington can't raise pounds 100,000 by itself, so we want other villages and communities served by the Warwick Hospital to join forces to help us reach our target. We raised pounds 5,307 at our first event, but there's still a long way to go.'

The common factor in both cases is consultant Simon Harries, who is normally based at Warwick Hospital.

More than 43,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year in the UK. Of the women who see Dr Harries, one in 13 has the disease.

He said: 'The facilities for breast cancer care are a bit disjointed here as they are scattered all around the hospital. The second problem is we don't have chemotherapy facilities here, so a lot of patients have to go to Walsgrave Hospital.

'The breast unit will be next to an oncology centre which will be able to deliver chemotherapy, and that will make a big difference. The medical equipment is more expensive than people realise, so we are reliant on fund-raisers like Pat and Virginia.'

You can help ATAC by calling Virginia Haynes on 0121 772 7388 between 9am2pm on weekdays.


Virginia Haynes (left) and Patricia Harrison who are part of the Action Taken Against Cancer campaign to raise money for a pounds 100,000 digital mammogram machine
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jan 1, 2005
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