'It saved my life' - South Shields woman diagnosed with breast cancer after first mammogram aged 50
A South Shields woman who says a routine mammogram saved her life – and that of her friend – after it detected she had breast cancer is urging others to get checked out.
Vicky Copp from Tyne Dock was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in February this year after being invited to her first mammogram appointment when she turned 50.
After hearing the shock news, a family friend also made an appointment, and she was also diagnosed with cancer.
"She said to me; ‘you've saved my life’,” said Vicky.
"It is so important, even during these Covid times, that people go and get checked.”
Vicky, a senior finance manager for NSA, admits that she almost didn’t attend her routine breast screening appointment, believing that the coronavirus pandemic would mean a long wait for an appointment.
"I had just turned 50 when I got called for a regular mammogram,” she said.
”I nearly didn’t do it because of Covid, as I thought the waiting list would be massive, but I managed to get booked in and had my first one in January.
"I got called back and didn’t think anything of it, but then I was diagnosed with breast cancer.”
The news came as a massive shock to Vicky, who had only just battled back from coronavirus in December 2020.
After undergoing an operation to remove the tumour at Gateshead’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital in March, she embarked on 10 sessions of radiotherapy at the Northern Centre For Cancer Care in Newcastle.
"It was quite invasive breast cancer and it was growing quite quickly,” Vicky said.
"[But] if I had not had my first mammogram I could have been in a completely different situation.
"I was very lucky to be diagnosed and treated so efficiently and quickly – it took 22 days from my very first mammogram to getting my diagnosis.
"I want to ask people to get a test [or check-up] if they have not gone for one.
"It was my first ever mammogram and it saved my life.”
The NHS says mammograms used in breast screening can spot cancers when they're too small to see or feel.
All women aged from 50 to 71 who are registered with a GP are invited for routine breast cancer screening every three years.
Women aged between 25 to 64 are also invited to attend cervical screening – otherwise known as smear tests – every three to five years.
Vicky has now been told she is cancer-free but will need to take daily medication for 10 years and have yearly mammograms for the next five years.