Women urged to be vigilant for signs of breast cancer

Spire Consulting Rooms at Abergele have a breast cancer awareness day. Strawberry Tea and cake day. Pictured: Katy March (Nail Tech), Maxine Brammer (Holistic Therapist), Lynn Beanland (Lead Therapist) and Georgina Agar (Beauty and Spa Therapist)

A leading breast cancer specialist has urged women to be vigilant in checking for telltale signs of the disease.


Mr Walid Abou-Samra was speaking at an event to raise money for breast cancer research at the Spire Consulting Rooms at the North Wales Business Park in Abergele.


It was also an opportunity for talented bakers to show off their skills at the facility which is a satellite of the private Spire Yale Hospital in Wrexham.


The local pretenders to the Great British Bake-Off throne produced some mouth-watering offerings for a strawberry tea and sale.


As well as tantalising the taste buds and raising money, the aim was to highlight the importance of being alert to the disease and the continuous need for women to check themselves.


With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month Mr Walid Abou-Samra, a Spire breast surgeon, suggested that a fundraising event be held at the consulting rooms’ cosmetics suite.


Staff at Spire adopted the suggestion and it was left to staff nurse Anna Whitlow to organise the event, which was well attended by supporters of the charity as well as people with cause to thank Mr Abou-Samra and his colleagues for their work in the field.


Anna urged friends and colleagues to use their baking skills, and the result was a dazzling display of appetizing confections which were sold on the day.


“We had no idea how many would turn up but it’s been very pleasing,” she said.


It was  fitting that Anna should play a key role in the event as she not only works at the Abergele premises but has also been at the receiving end of the cancer support services.


“Following a routine mammogram I had a cancer scare myself and I saw the importance of putting one’s mind at rest,” she said.


Her own experience has reinforced for her how crucial it is for women to check themselves for signs of unusual lumps or pains in their breasts and to keep mammogram appointments.


“We can get patients referred here by their GPs, and a consultation can provide peace of mind,” she said.


Anna said that while she had the utmost respect for NHS staff and their work they were under such enormous pressure that a private consultancy could provide fuller reassurance.


During the afternoon Mr Abou-Samra delivered the same message, urging women to check themselves regularly and he outlined what they should be looking out for.


“There is nothing really complicated about it – it is really a matter of identifying feels or looks different from usual,” he said.


“The most important thing is to check oneself in a mirror and see whether there is anything different about the shape, texture or colour of the skin. If there are any concerns then contact a specialist,” he said.


Mr Abou-Samra, who is also lead clinician for breast cancer with the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said he found it surprising that despite all the publicity and heightened awareness of the dangers of breast cancer, surveys had revealed that about 70 per cent of women still did not check themselves. That figure applies in Wales as much as in the rest of Britain.


Equally surprising is the fact that about 37 per cent of women who are offered appointments for a mammogram fail to keep the appointments.


Andrea Carri, manager of Spire Consulting Rooms, said they were pleased to have been able to help the charity by organising the strawberry tea, cake sale and raffle,


The afternoon was held in the cosmetic suite which opened in April this year on the first floor of the building which Spire moved into in 2009.


The suite enables them to offer several new services including non-surgical cosmetic treatments and beauty treatments, physiotherapy and activities such as yoga, Tai Chi and pilates.


Among staff present at the charity event was Diane Youdale – best known for her role as Jet in the hit TV series Gladiators – who is qualified as a psychotherapist and pilates instructor and who is based at the Abergele premises two days a week.


Breast cancer is something that Diane has seen up close. Laura Carling, the twin sister of her good friend, the actress Elizabeth Carling who played Dr Selena Donovan in the hit BBC show Casualty, is a breast cancer survivor of 15 years. Laura is now a representative for Breast Cancer Care North East.


Diane said: “It’s something I’ve seen at close quarters and it’s not a pleasant thing. The courage that breast cancer survivors like Laura show is inspirational.


“Mr Abou-Samra gave up his free time to come and give a talk and share his insights.


“He took us through how to do self-checks. He said that you know your breast better than anyone and to look for changes. Everyone in the room felt supported and more knowledgeable after the talk.”