Woman Urges Others To Regularly Check Themselves After Medical Negligence Lawyers Secure Settlement In Connection With Diagnosis
A mum diagnosed with breast cancer is urging women to carry out routine checks as she backs a major awareness campaign.
Michele Cullen was diagnosed with cancer around seven months after she attended a routine mammogram appointment at a mobile unit provided by Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust in Chesham town centre.
The scan showed signs of an ill defined mass lesion. However, Michele was not informed of the mammogram findings or referred for any further investigation. Instead, Michele was told there was no cause for concern and that she did not have to attend a follow up scan for three years.
Amersham mum diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer
The mum-of-two from Amersham, Buckinghamshire, continued to check herself for lumps. After finding a lump in her left breast she was referred by her GP to hospital for another mammogram and further tests. She was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer which doctors found had spread to her lymph nodes.
Medical negligence lawyers secure settlement for Michele
Following her diagnosis, Michele, aged 58, instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her care under Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust which runs the mobile unit and was responsible for analysing her mammogram.
Michele has now joined her legal team at Irwin Mitchell in supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
It comes after her legal team secured her an undisclosed settlement in connection with her diagnosis.
Mammogram review identifies 'learning points'
Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust denied liability. However, it acknowledged, that following her diagnosis, an independent review of Michele’s mammogram by three radiologists was classed as ‘satisfactory with learning points’. The category was for cancers that were identified in hindsight, the Trust said.
Expert Opinion“Michele has faced an incredibly difficult few years coming to terms with her diagnosis and the physical and emotional impact it’s had on her and her family.
“Understandably she’s had a number of questions about the events that unfolded in the lead up to her diagnosis. While we’re pleased to have secured her the settlement, allowing Michele, to access the ongoing specialist support she requires, she would rather not be in this position.
“Through our work we sadly see the impact that breast cancer can have and how early detection and treatment are key to beating it.
“Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an incredibly important campaign which we join Michele in supporting. Michele hopes that by sharing her story she can help others be aware of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer as well the need for people to regularly examine themselves, take part in the screening programme and seek medical advice if needed.” Dami Oloyede - Chartered Legal Executive
Breast cancer: Michele Cullen's story
Michele, who has two daughters aged 21 and 18, attended a routine mammogram on 12 March, 2019. Two weeks later she was told her results were clear.
Michele visited her GP that October after finding a lump and was referred to hospital under the two-week cancer referral scheme.
Following her diagnosis towards the end of October 2019 Michele underwent surgery, including to remove the tumour and lymph nodes.
She started chemotherapy in February 2020 but this was paused after one round because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Michele started a course of cancer drugs and also underwent radiotherapy. She resumed chemotherapy in July 2020.
Doctors have since told her she is cancer free but Michele says she remains nervous that the disease may return.
She used to volunteer in a charity shop but does not feel strong enough to return to work.
Michele supports Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Michele said: “Although I attended the routine mammogram, I also regularly checked my breasts as you can never be too careful. After the results came back clear I felt reassured, so I was shocked when I found a lump a few months later.
“Once I visited my GP and was referred to hospital everything seemed to happen so quickly. While it was a worrying time nothing prepares you for the news you have cancer. It was absolutely devastating, not only for me but I also worried for my children.
“I struggled to understand how I had stage three breast cancer when only a few months earlier my results had said I didn’t need to be seen for three years.
“This really concerned me, however, I had limited time to reflect and everything was about trying to get the treatment I needed.
“Even now my anxiety levels remain high. I try not to burden people with what I’ve been through and can get emotional when I think about what’s happened.
“I’ve been told that I’m cured of my cancer but I now find it hard to accept such reassurances and worry about my prognosis.
“I just hope that by speaking out and sharing my experience I can help others. It’s vital that women not only continue to attend screening appointments but also carry out regular checks. I had a routine mammogram and was told things were fine but then was diagnosed with cancer. Some people might be reassured by test results. However, it was because I kept checking my breasts that I found the lump and sought advice which led to my diagnosis.
“That’s why it’s so important that women keep checking themselves, even following a negative screening. Symptoms can change or appear at any time.”
Find out more about our expertise in supporting people and families affected by a cancer diagnosis at our dedicated cancer claims section.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month runs throughout October. More information can be found on the Breast Cancer Now website.