Published: 15:58, 01 October 2020
| Updated: 10:28, 06 October 2020
A Deal mum living with incurable breast cancer is advising women not to "shrug off" abnormalities this October Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Chantelle Rashbrook's words of wisdom come as new estimations show almost a million women have missed out of vital screenings because of coronavirus.
Katya Fowler reports for KMTV
Speaking from experience, and the stories she has heard from women who attend her support group, she is highlighting that early detection is key.
She said: "Don't shrug it off, go and see your doctor.
"You've got to. There's nothing embarrassing about it at all, nothing to be ashamed about.
"Yes it can be uncomfortable having to expose yourself to the doctors and nurses but it could save your life.
"Treatment could be dealt with a lot faster. It's too much of a risk, the longer you leave it."
Breast screening programmes were paused in March as the NHS focused its resources on tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.
Now, Breast Cancer Now has calculated that almost one million women in the UK have missed vital breast screenings, meaning around 8,600 women who have not had a scan could have undetected breast cancer.
The scanning programme is running again, but social distancing measures mean there is a reduced capacity.
Mrs Rashbrook said: "It's very worrying and there's obviously going to be a backlog now.
"But keep knocking on the door and making the phone calls [if you're worried].
"Covid is a scary thing but our hospitals here, I've found, are amazing.
"They're very well controlled environments and very safe. Don't take no for an answer."
The married mum of two, 49, wasted little time in going to the doctors when she noticed a lump at Christmas, eight years ago.
She was first diagnosed in 2012 and had a mastectomy, followed by chemotherapy, radiotherapy and then reconstructive surgery.
When the cancer returned in 2014, spreading to her lymph nodes and lung, she was told it was incurable.
But thanks to a new drug Kadcyla, her tumours shrank significantly and she now receives treatment every three weeks at the Viking Day Unit at the QEQM Hospital in Margate.
Chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, baroness Delyth Morgan said: “We understand that the breast screening programme was paused out of necessity due to the global pandemic, but we must now press play to ensure that all women can access breast screening, and we cannot afford for the programme to be paused again.
“Governments and NHS health bodies across the UK must set out how the influx in demand for imaging and diagnostics will be met.
"The UK Government must also seize the timely opportunity presented by the Comprehensive Spending Review, to urgently invest in recruiting and training NHS staff so that the workforce is equipped to give all women with breast cancer the best possible chance of early diagnosis.”
Anyone concerned about COVID-19 and breast screening can call the charity’s free helpline on 0808 800 6000.