A BRAVE patient who has worked at Barnsley Hospital since she was a teenager has highlighted the importance of regular check-ups having been diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 22.

Katie Claydon, from Birdwell, is a communications assistant for the hospital’s media team and found a lump in her breast before Christmas.

She has worked throughout the Covid pandemic and was only diagnosed with cancer on January 7 and underwent lumpectomy surgery last Wednesday.

Katie said: “I was watching some videos online and one was about checking your breasts - I thought I’d try it as I’d never checked before and was shocked when I felt something.

“I asked my mum to check it for me and she was equally concerned.”

Katie rang her GP, who asked her to come to the surgery within the next hour.

The doctor said that due to Katie’s age, it was likely that the lump was a fibroadenoma - a benign lump - or a cyst but as a precaution Katie was referred to the breast clinic at Barnsley Hospital.

“I was firstly seen by a doctor who drew a circle where the lump was,” she added. “He also said it could be a fibroadenoma, but the ultrasound would make sure.

“The lovely consultant and nurse who did my ultrasound were a bit concerned, so I went on to have a mammogram and core needle biopsy to determine what the lump was.”( Her results were due on January 7 but due to Covid in her household, Katie had to find out the news via a telephone appointment.

“One of the consultants and breast nurses rang me and they were so lovely - they talked me through what went on at my appointment, and then told me it was cancer,” she added.

“I instantly cried. I started thinking about every bad choice I had ever made in my life as only around 30 people a year in the UK who are my age get diagnosed with breast cancer.”

The next step in her treatment was an MRI scan, which showed the two-and-a-half centimetre lump, before she was told she would also need to have chemotherapy.( She said: “Shortly after my diagnosis I started an Instagram account to show my progress and spread awareness to people of all ages about the importance of regularly checking your breasts for lumps and other symptoms such as rashes, discharge and dimpling.

“A few people have told me that because of my account, they have been to see their doctor about their lump and are currently waiting to be referred to the breast clinic.

“I am feeling really positive and ready to beat this so my message would be that cancer doesn’t care how old you are.

“People of all ages should get to know their breasts as soon as possible, so they can determine any changes more easily.”

Yesterday marked World Cancer Day and health leaders have also urged women to get checked if they notice anything untoward, after the Chronicle revealed last month that nearly 10,000 women in the town are awaiting screening appointments.

A spokesperson from the Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group, which is responsible for healthcare services in the borough, added: “Cancer treatments are now back at pre-pandemic levels, thanks to the hard work of NHS staff.

“All local breast screening services are operational and our message remains that cancer and screening services are open, ready and able to receive patients so anyone who is concerned about a possible cancer symptom should contact their GP and come forward for a check.”