My name is Jeanette Costigan. I would like to introduce myself as a new trustee for OBBG (Oxford Breast Buddy Group). I am doing this today, Thursday 4 February 2021, because it is World Cancer Day. Today we are paying attention to the fact that 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Today people are being encouraged to know and look for the signs of cancer (www.nhs.uk/conditions/cancer/symptoms/).
With particular relevance to us at OBBG, Cancer Research UK statistics tell us that, between 2015-2017, 55,176 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK alone. Sadly 11,399 of these women didn’t survive. I am one of the lucky ones included in those numbers. I have become a trustee of OBBG because I want to give something back. I will be eternally grateful to all the wonderful people, i.e. friends, family, my employer/colleagues and amazing clinicians/surgeon who supported, helped, treated and guided me through my breast cancer journey. If I can do something to help other women who are dealing with this dreadful disease, I will feel honoured. If I can encourage just one woman to examine herself and get an early diagnosis, I will be overjoyed. In terms of my contribution as a trustee, I hope I can be an asset to OBBG in the coming months/years.
Breast cancer experience
I attended my mammograms without fail and never had any issues. I have to admit however that I didn’t examine myself regularly in between these appointments. That was a big mistake!! Fortunately, the 40 mm lump in my left breast was so pronounced that I felt it against the inside of my arm when washing my hair in the shower! Little did I know, at that point, in three months’ time, I wouldn’t have any hair left to wash. By the time my ‘lump’ was removed, it had grown to 60 mm and, as my oncologist once remarked, ‘it was a big old tumour’. That was more than five years ago and I feel very fit and healthy now, however, I endured 6 operations, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and I tried three different hormone therapy prescriptions before realizing that I couldn’t tolerate any of them and deciding not to take them. When I reflect on my experience now I still feel very lucky that the cancer hadn’t spread into my lymph nodes and that, as far as I can be sure, I am totally cancer free now.
All charities need money to operate and the OBBG Committee do a great job in raising funds to keep the charity going. Having recently retired from my position with Oxford PharmaGenesis (www.pharmagenesis.com), as their Global HR Director, I prevailed upon their goodwill and interest in all things related to healthcare to donate to OBBG in support of World Cancer Day, which they have kindly done. Thank you very much to them for their generous donation on behalf of all the women who have been and will be helped by OBBG. I know the money will be put to good use.