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Breast Cancer….what do you know?

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

The word “Cancer” still strikes fear into the hearts of most people. Historically, once diagnosed the thought was that the illness is terminal. However, through the development of skills and knowledge, along with many campaigns focussed on raising awareness, promoting lifestyle wellbeing, self-checking leading to early detection, survival rates for most types of cancer are increasing.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month; to mark this Cancer Support Sanctuary LARCCin conjunction with Whelehans Pharmacy held a Cancer Information Event in Whelehans Pharmacy on Tuesday October 13th. As part of this event, pharmacist Eamonn Brady gave a talk on “Breast cancer prevention, care and aftercare” to a full pharmacy. Ger Connaughton from LARCC was “delighted so many ladies called in for a consultation with LARCC staff throughout the day and many booked in for LARCC’s breast care and other cancer services in the coming weeks”. Bernie McHugh from LARCC explained that “while LARCC advertise their services, many people in Westmeath do not realise the full extent of the cancer support services on offer from us on your doorstep (at LARCC’s premises at the Friary in Multifarnham). As well as offering a range of call-in support services to people diagnosed with cancer and their families, LARCC is the only residential cancer care provider in Ireland. Most of our services are free of charge as we cover most of the costs through the kind support of fundraising events and donations. Events like our recent awareness event in Whelehans pharmacy are a great way of informing people of our services.”


Self-checks can save your life
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women after skin cancer; every 3 hours a woman in Ireland is diagnosed with breast cancer. One of the main messages that came from the cancer awareness event was that if cancer is caught early, most people survive. 80.6% of all women diagnosed with breast cancer survive for 5 years or longer (and survival rates continue to increase every year). Early detection is the key to survival. Eamonn Brady, pharmacist from Whelehans Pharmacy emphasised during his cancer talk that “Self-checks for breast cancer are vitally important; 74% of Irish women with breast cancer discovered the lump themselves. You know your body better than any doctor does.”


What to check for?
Approximately 80% of breast cancers occur in women over 50 years.If you do notice any change in your breasts, see your GP as soon as possible.Pain isn’t usually a sign of breast cancer. If you have pain in one or both breasts, rest assured it’s probably due to hormonal changes, a benign cyst, a ligament strain or another condition; however it is important to get unexplained pain checked by your GP. More common warning signs of breast cancer include a palpable lump, a change in the size or shape of the breast, puckering of the skin, nipple changes (like scaling or discharge), or increased warmth. A mammogram (X-ray of the breast) is the most common way to check for breast cancer.


A breast prosthesis explained
Surgical removal of the full breast or part of the breasr (mastectomy or lumpectomy) is one of the main treatment techniques for breast cancer. The surgery can leave the breast scarred and a different shape and size than prior to surgery.  A breast prosthesis is an artificial breast which is worn after the mastectomy. It helps balance the body and allows a bra to fit naturally on the side of the mastectomy and prevents potential problems such as back and neck pain and shoulder sagging downwards which can lead to aches and pains. In Westmeath, LARCC provide a specialist prosthesis and bra fitting service for women who have undergone breast surgery; find out more by calling LARCC at1890 719 719. LARCC have a specialist fitting room at their premises in Multifarnham.  LARCC’s confidential service provides you with access to a comprehensive range of products and clothing through the support of qualified consultant fitters; many of the products are covered on the medical card and by health insurers.
Manual Lymph Drainage
If lymph nodes removed as part of the surgery or damaged during chemotherapy/radiation, lymphedema (swelling of the hand and arm) may occur, even years after treatment.


Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) redirects fluid from swollen areas to healthy lymphatic vessels, transporting it back to the normal circulatory system. Specialist MLD therapists exerts different intensities of hand pressure to increase activity of normal lymphatic vessels and to encourage the fluid away from congested areas by bypassing ineffective or injured lymph vessels. The treatment is very gentle and a typical session will involve drainage of the neck, trunk, and the affected extremity (in that order), lasting approximately 40 to 60 minutes. Specialist bandages and sleeves may be recommended by the therapist. LARCC offer MLD with their highly skilled therapists who see their clients on a pre-arranged appointment basis. There is a waiting list for this service


For specific advice and information on LARCC services, contact Cancer Support Sanctuary LARCC at 1890 719 719 or check
For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehans, dial 04493 34591 or log on to You can also e-mail queries to Find us on Facebook


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