A PORTRUSH woman says that a visit to a breast screening van in Coleraine three years ago saved her life.
Ray Weir, who was 73 last week, took the brave decision to have her breast removed after a series of tests detected that she had Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS).
DCIS is when cancerous changes occur in the cells lining the milk ducts in the breast.
If left untreated it can spread and invade the breast tissue. Although it is not harmful, it must be treated to prevent it developing into breast cancer.
Ray, who is a former lecturer at Limavady College, told The Coleraine Times her harrowing but inspirational story in a bid to raise awareness of breast cancer among local women.
“I had a mammogram in one of the Action Cancer buses in Coleraine. I wasn’t even going to go, but decided at the last minute to go along and get checked out,” she said.
“In the space of a week, I was called back to the hospital for a second test. Anyone that I spoke to at the time, told me not to be too worried.
“On the Monday morning I attended the clinic at Altnagelvin.
“The first two biopsies I had done showed nothing.
“The doctors carried out two ultra sound scans, they didn’t detect anything, but they felt that something wasn’t right.
“The doctor told me that he was mindful to send me home, and recall me again in three months.
“I had no lumps, no indentations and no pain, but I told him that I would rather know if there was anything wrong.
“Another consultant was called and my case was discussed with him.
“I was asked to stay on longer, and I was put on a new machine. It was painful, but it didn’t last any longer than ten minutes.
“I was discharged and told to ring back again two days later.
“The hospital actually rang me back to tell me that a little black spot, the same size as a grain of salt, had been found amongst a group of calcium spots.”
After discussing her case with the surgeon, Ray took the brave decision to have a full mastectomy.
Her decision was based on the fact that these other calcium spots could change.
“I just want other people to know about my story.
“I feel that I have made a very wise decision.
“If my story encourages other women to go along and get checked out then I will be happy.
“ I nearly didn’t go along to the cancer bus that day, but it just shows you how important that decision was - it saved my life.