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‘Check every two weeks’ - breast cancer survivor’s plea as referral rates plummet

PUBLISHED: 06:30 12 July 2020

Sue Leeming, from Norwich, received her cancer diagnose 12 years ago and is urging others to check regularly. Picture: Sue Leeming

Sue Leeming, from Norwich, received her cancer diagnose 12 years ago and is urging others to check regularly. Picture: Sue Leeming

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A Norwich woman has urged others to make checking their breasts as regular as brushing their teeth in the week where it was revealed the number of cancer diagnoses had plummeted.

Sue Leeming, from Norwich, received her cancer diagnose 12 years ago and is urging others to check regularly with her dogs Tea and Coco. Picture: Sue LeemingSue Leeming, from Norwich, received her cancer diagnose 12 years ago and is urging others to check regularly with her dogs Tea and Coco. Picture: Sue Leeming

Sue Leeming enjoyed an afternoon tea at Barnham Broom on Friday - 12 years to the day since she found out she had breast cancer- and raise a glass of Prosecco to how far she has come.

The hairdresser, who returned to work this week, made checking a part of her life after her mum died from the disease in 2001 aged 67.

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The Golden Triangle resident said: “You have to check yourself every two weeks, it needs to be as regular as brushing your teeth, make it part of your routine.

“They asked me when was the last time I checked myself, I said every two weeks, and they said you must have missing something the size of a pea. It was weeks from travelling into my lymphnodes and I would not have been here, it was aggressive.”

Sue Leeming, from Norwich, received her cancer diagnose 12 years ago and is urging others to check regularly. Picture: Sue LeemingSue Leeming, from Norwich, received her cancer diagnose 12 years ago and is urging others to check regularly. Picture: Sue Leeming

In the operation a cut of 10 inches had to be made to remove the tumour which was a success, but, left her in the early days struggling physically and emotionally.

She said: “I was pushed to the brink, I really was mentally and physically. I never thought I would get to 12, I did not think I was going to get to five.

I had decades of stress, I was a heavy social drinker and just had a very stressful life, I was a workaholic and I never stopped.”

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In 2018, she quit the immunity suppressant treatments she had been having as it had become too much, continuing to focus on her diet, meditation and walking her two dogs Tea and Coco.

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Ms Leeming said: “A lot of people take their health for granted.

“It’s my number one thing, health, I never want to go back into hospital. Lifestyle and diet are everything.”

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The 54-year-old has used her experience and training to cut and style wigs and hopes to volunteer with the Big C, when it is able to open its £500,000 support centre in Dereham Road.

She added: “I want to spread the word that health is wealth and to warn women on the signs of breast cancer and how they can help to avoid it.

“If they find something, they must go to the doctor.”

This week, it was found that the number of people starting cancer treatment across Norfolk’s three main hospitals had fallen by 40pc in April.

A national study estimated there could be up to 35,000 more deaths from cancer because of delays getting treatment during coronavirus.

A Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital spokesman said: “Urgent cancer care has been running throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and routine services have been restarted with our staff and patients following infection control guidance and taking extra precautions to reduce the risk. NNUH chemotherapy services have also continued throughout the pandemic.

“Our teams have worked hard to restart services affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, prioritising cancer and other urgent services.

“We have seen an almost 40 per cent reduction in two week wait cancer referrals since the start of April and we’d encourage anyone who has concerns about cancer symptoms to not delay seeking medical help and to contact their GP immediately – our staff have pulled out the stops so that treatment can go ahead safely and are here to care for you as normal.”


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