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‘A mammogram saved my life and it could save yours too’

DUBAI // As Amanda Fagan embarks on her 16th and final round of chemotherapy treatment this week, she has a message for women in the UAE – if you do one thing this October, have a mammogram.

The 44-year-old was told she has breast cancer on April 24 after going for her annual scan.

“The radiologist was concerned with what she saw on the mammogram and ultrasound, so she performed a biopsy,” said the Dubai teacher.

The mother-of-four said that, on leaving the clinic, she knew in her heart it was not going to be good news.

“The next four days waiting for those results were the hardest I ever had to endure,” said Ms Fagan. “When it was confirmed I had breast cancer, I was horrified, scared and very upset.”

The Irish expatriate said she lived a healthy lifestyle before diagnosis and underwent yearly checks.

She was told she had HER2-positive breast cancer – an aggressive form of the disease.

“My doctor told me if I had not had this mammogram and it was 12 months later, there would be nothing to offer me,” she said.

Ms Fagan, who has been having treatment at Mediclinic City Hospital in Dubai, will this week undertake her final round of chemotherapy before a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction, followed by 35 rounds of radiotherapy and 18 months of targeted hormone therapy and, finally, 10 years of oral drugs.

“My journey is by no means over but my outlook on life has changed,” she said. “I take nothing for granted.

“It’s not easy to sit back and allow people to do things for you.” Ms Fagan said more awareness about breast cancer was needed.

“I think women are unsure of how to self-check,” she said. “As mothers, we become complacent with our own health due to our busy lives and tend to put off mammograms.

“I had no symptoms. I was not self-examining – maybe if I had, I might have felt the massive tumour lurking beneath.

“Breast checks are too important to postpone. October is breast cancer awareness month so I would urge women who have not had a mammogram to make it your number one thing to do this month.”

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(via The National)