Alana Calvert, PA
Former “Dragon” Kelly Hoppen, who starred in BBC show Dragons’ Den, has revealed her breast cancer diagnosis after eight years of avoiding mammograms.
The 63-year-old interior designer, who only learned last month she was “out of the woods” after being given the all-clear, said she was compelled to share her story to urge other women to never miss a screening.
Writing in the Daily Mail, Ms Hoppen said she could not believe her “own stupidity” after ignoring routine mammogram invitations for eight years.
“It was a foolish thing to do, which is why I am writing this now: it’s a cautionary tale, a warning to others, not to be too frightened, too harried by the demands of work to go to your appointments,” she said, revealing her mother had a breast cancer scare when she was relatively young.
Ms Hoppen credited her executive assistant and personal assistant with ensuring she finally followed through with an appointment in September.
The results eventually found Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) – meaning some cells in the lining of the ducts of the breast tissue had started to turn into cancer cells but had not yet started to spread into the surrounding breast tissue.
“(My doctor) explained that I’d been very fortunate indeed: DCIS is the very mildest form of cancer,” she said.
“It was in two milk ducts and I was booked in to have the cancer cells removed from the ducts — an awful procedure which made me feel very sore.
“I was hugely fortunate. Although I’d neglected my check-ups, I was lucky that my cancer was detected early.
“Had it not been, I might have faced a less happy outcome. Actually, I might not be here writing this cautionary tale now.”
She added there was 10 to 15 per cent chance the cancer will return, but she vowed never to skip a mammogram again.
“I have my next one booked for September and you can be assured that I’ll be there,” she said.
According to the NHS, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK.
Most women diagnosed with breast cancer are over the age of 50, but younger women can also get breast cancer.
About one in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime with recovery reliant on early detection.
The NHS has said it is “vital” that women check their breasts regularly for any changes and always have any changes examined by a GP.
In rare cases, men can also be diagnosed with breast cancer.