In support of Be Clear On Cancer

The risk of cancer increases with age, so don't assume you're past it just because you're over 70, says Jose Downes…



I was just on my way to the kitchen to make a cuppa when…

Crash! I tripped over and tumbled to the floor.

It wasn’t the first time – and after two hip replacements a few years back, the last thing I wanted to risk was breaking any bones.

My daughter Katy fretted about me too. She lived 25 miles away, so it took time to reach my place if there was an emergency.

After my latest fall, she came up with an idea.

‘Why don’t we both sell our houses and buy a place together, with an annexe? That way we can be close, but you’ll still have your independence.’

So before Christmas four years ago, we moved to our new place .

It was lovely being part of Katy’s family life, as her husband and my three grown-up grandchildren all lived there too. I knew help was always at hand.

But now I had a new worry on my mind. While having a shower, I had noticed a hard lump on the underside of my right breast.

‘It’s like a pea, where a pea shouldn’t be…’ I thought.

I went to see the GP alone, because I didn’t want to worry Katy. She didn’t question me – Katy was used to me having check-ups for my hips that had troubled me for years.

The GP told me the lump could be breast cancer, and referred me to hospital for an urgent mammogram and biopsy. They were done just before Christmas, and early in January, I had a follow-up clinic appointment. This time I asked Katy to come with me.

I knew what to expect, but it came as a huge shock to Katy when the consultant confirmed I had three cancerous lumps in my right breast, and suspicious areas in my left breast, too.

When I was advised to have a double mastectomy, I knew it was far better to lose my breasts than have cancer.

But even though I was being brave, I was so glad to have my daughter there to support me. I had the op a fortnight later. The NHS care was superb, and five days later I was home, armed with physio exercises to help me get fit and flexible again.

With wonderful back-up from my family, I made a good recovery. Now, four years on, I’m cancer free.

So please take my advice and don’t ever ignore any changes in your breasts.

Age is no barrier to breast cancer, so make an appointment to see your doctor if you notice anything unusual.

It could save your life.



One in three women who get breast cancer are over 70, so don’t assume you’re past it.

Finding breast cancer early makes it more treatable, so it’s important to be breast aware and to know what’s normal for you.

For more information visit

 A lump is not the only sign of breast cancer. Other possible signs of breast cancer include:

• A lump or thickening in your breast or armpit

• Changes to the skin of your breast, such as dimpling or puckering

• Changes in the shape, size or feel of your breast

• Nipple changes, including a change in the position of a nipple, or a rash on or around your nipple

• Nipple discharge

• Pain in your breast

 If you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible.