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'It's brought back a whole lot of grief' - Family left without answers in breast cancer screening scandal

PUBLISHED: 06:00 04 May 2018 | UPDATED: 12:25 04 May 2018

Ann Baczkowska with her husband George on holiday in Canada. Photo: Helen Baczkowska

Ann Baczkowska with her husband George on holiday in Canada. Photo: Helen Baczkowska

Helen Baczkowska

A heartbroken daughter has told of how the grief of losing her mother had been brought back as she realised she may have been caught up in the breast cancer screening scandal.

File photo of a consultant studying a mammogram. Photo: Rui Vieira/PA WireFile photo of a consultant studying a mammogram. Photo: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Ann Baczkowska, who lived just outside Norwich, died aged 73 in 2014, after fighting breast cancer for two years.

But now her daughter Helen, 50, has been left wondering whether her “vibrant” mother could have lived longer as she never had her final breast cancer screening.

The health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced on Wednesday that around 450,000 women aged between 69 and 71 were not sent letters inviting them for mammograms, which may have led to hundreds of missed cancer diagnoses, due to a computer error.

MORE: Grieving husband says his wife is possibly among those lives cut short due to breast cancer screening error



An inquiry has been launched into the error where the best estimate available indicates there may have been between 135 and 270 women who “had their lives shortened”.

Ms Baczkowska, who lives in Long Stratton, said: “Initially I thought maybe not but they said it started in 2009, I remember at the time when she found the lump and was diagnosed in 2012 she said ‘I was never called for a mammogram’.”

Ms Baczkowska said her father George also remembered similar conversations, and now the family including Ms Baczkowska’s brother Jon and 14-year-old daughter Kate had been left without answers.

She said: “You trust in the system and I could be wrong but I’ll never know. But the thing is by the time she found the lump and was diagnosed it was stage two cancer and it was terminal.

“It’s so very tragic for my family, thinking could it have been different? And it’s tragic for those women now who have not been screened. We trust in the system and when it lets you down, for me and my family it’s brought back a whole lot of grief.”

Ms Baczkowska said even is screening may not have saved her mother’s life, it could have extended it, which she said would have been “very valuable” because she made the most of life.

She said: “She was very passionate about human and animal rights, she had been an active district councillor in Suffolk for many years, she loved her granddaughter.”

• Anyone in Norfolk and Waveney who may have been affected can call charity Big C on 0800 092 7640 Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4.30pm, or Wednesdays and Fridays 6pm to 7.30pm, or visit www.big-c.co.uk/support

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