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At 15 I discovered a lump in my right breast, I was quickly admitted to hospital to have a lumpectomy. Fortunately it was benign. That was in the 1960's - and we didn't have mammograms or breast-screening programmes where I lived at that time. I can vividly remember the embarrassment of having a lop-sided chest at school, because the surgeons who performed the operation told my mother that I was young enough to have my breast "refill itself" naturally. I am still "naturally" lop sided (but not so severely). I count myself lucky that it was caught in time.

30-odd years later one of my sister-in-laws discovered a lump in her breast and was too worried and scared to do anything about it, in case it was cancer. I was able to tell her all about my experiences as a teenager. My reassurances worked, she sought help, had a mammogram and luckily her lump turned out to be a cyst that was easily drained without any invasive surgery.

So I feel that my embarrassment as a teenager, stuffing socks and cotton wool in one side of my bra to try and balance out my chest so no one noticed (especially the boys), has served to help at least one person get help sooner, rather than later. That makes it all worth while.

Christine Thomas
Isle of Man, United Kingdom

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