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Sarah Harding’s death shows checks are vital, says woman diagnosed with breast cancer at 31

·3 min read
Sarah Harding  (Getty Images)
Sarah Harding (Getty Images)

A woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer at 31 today urged other young Londoners not to be frightened to get themselves checked.

Liz Anderton decided to go public with her story after the death of singer Sarah Harding from breast cancer at the age of 39 this month.

Breast cancer survivor Liz Anderton (NHS PR)
Breast cancer survivor Liz Anderton (NHS PR)

Ms Anderton, 32, from Bromley, said she had been “lucky” to have found a lump in her breast last summer, between lockdowns, while the cancer was still in its early stages.

After a phone consultation with her GP, she was referred for hospital treatment and has had a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

She also chose to freeze her eggs to safeguard her chance of becoming a mother. She is having a course of Herceptin injections and will take a daily Tamoxifen pill for 10 years.

Liz Anderton: “Don’t feel nervous about seeking help.
Liz Anderton: “Don’t feel nervous about seeking help.

Ms Anderton, who has returned to work, told the Standard: “I have been very lucky. I caught it at the right time.

“The staff were amazing. The reason why I’m telling my story is to show that if you find anything you need to speak up and not feel nervous about seeking help. Call the GP and get tested.

“It’s easier to get treated if it’s spotted earlier. Sarah Harding was quite young. It shows it affects anyone.”

Ms Anderton was treated at Princess Royal University Hospital (PRUH) in Orpington and Queen Mary’s in Sidcup after being diagnosed with HER2+ (triple positive) breast cancer last September.

Her maternal grandmother had breast cancer and she had been encouraged by her mother to always check her breasts.

“As the lump was discovered early, my consultant advised that a lumpectomy, followed by rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy would, firstly, be the most effective treatment plan,” she said.

“Given my age and planned treatment, clinicians at the PRUH suggested fertility treatment that would involve freezing my eggs.

“I had recently entered into a new long-term relationship and I didn’t just want the decision to be just taken out of my hands. My partner was incredibly supportive, and still is, but I felt that we were forced into making a big decision, early on in our relationship.”

King’s College Hospitals NHS trust, which runs Princess Royal, has seen a recent increase in the number of women being referred for breast cancer scans.

Jackie Wright, lead breast cancer clinical nurse specialist at Princess Royal, said: “The news of Sarah Harding’s death acts as a timely reminder to routinely check your breasts.

“Here at the PRUH, we have seen an increase, since August, in the number of women who have detected changes or symptoms and have been referred by their GP for a breast cancer assessment.

“We want to ensure that women who are concerned about changes to their breasts and want peace of mind, can be seen quickly and receive timely treatment, if needed.

“Additional clinics at the Chartwell Unit will be available for GP referrals from September 25, to ensure patients can be seen as quickly as possible.”

Ms Anderton is raising money for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. Visit tinyurl.com/2rhyvubp

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