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Maidstone and Weald MP Helen Grant urges women to attend NHS mammogram screening following breast cancer diagnosis

A Kent MP has urged women to attend their mammogram appointments following her battle with breast cancer.

Helen Grant, who represents Maidstone and Weald, was diagnosed last year after she had a standard NHS screening check in May.

Helen (middle) with her surgical team. Picture: Helen Grant
Helen (middle) with her surgical team. Picture: Helen Grant

Speaking to KentOnline, she said she didn’t find out until the following month there was an issue when she was asked to come in for a biopsy and ultrasound.

The tests revealed she had breast cancer, however, to find out its extent, Helen underwent further biopsies and an MRI which showed two more suspicious areas of tissue.

The 62-year-old said: “Upon first realising there was a problem I was, I think, slightly in denial.

“Until you know the full picture it is easy to think the worst so I ‘parked’ it until I fully understood the situation, and the options that were available.”

Following a further consultation in July, the conservative MP was told she would need to have invasive surgery and potentially radio and chemotherapy.

Helen decided to have a full mastectomy and reconstructive surgery which took place in September at The Royal Marsden Hospital, in Kensington and Chelsea, London.

Helen Grant was diagnosed with breast cancer last year
Helen Grant was diagnosed with breast cancer last year

She said: “That process took a couple of months and the issue was always there, like a spectre hanging over me, and it made it harder for me to think or plan for the medium or long term.

“Once I had made the decision how to proceed, I felt better and wanted to just get it done.

“I was a bit fearful a day or two prior to the operation but I had complete confidence in the surgical team around me and they made that part of the journey manageable.

“I was in good hands. For all of my professional life, female empowerment, gender equality and inclusion have been at the forefront of my values.

“On that day serendipity saw to it that my entire surgical team happened to be female, and they were fantastic.”

Helen, who has been an MP since 2010, found out two weeks after the operation the cancer had not spread which she described as a “massive relief and special moment” for her family.

“My surgical team happened to be female and they were fantastic…”

She has since had two further operations, with the last being only a few weeks ago.

“My scars do not reveal the full extent of what has taken place and recovery has taken some time,” she added.

“No matter how keen you are to have all cylinders firing again, the body will only heal at its own pace, and I have found this to be very frustrating.”

Following surgery, Helen revealed she has received messages from colleagues and constituents sharing their own stories and has been supported by her husband, two sisters and mum.

Helen is now urging other women not to miss their mammogram appointments - which use X-rays to look for cancers that are too small to see or feel.

Helen Grant (right) said she has received support from her colleagues including Tracey Crouch (left)
Helen Grant (right) said she has received support from her colleagues including Tracey Crouch (left)

She added: “If I had done so, it would have been another three years before my next screening opportunity.

“At that time my condition would have been very different and may not have been recoverable.”

Anyone registered with a GP as female will be invited for a screening every three years between the ages of 50 and 71.

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