St Albans breast cancer survivor makes national news

Rosemary Webb, 84, with her book of poems including a poem about her battle with breast cancer

Rosemary Webb, 84, with her book of poems including a poem about her battle with breast cancer - Credit: Archant

When a breast cancer charity needed someone for TV interviews about the value of screening after the age of 70, they looked no further than Rosemary Webb.

For Rosemary, 84, who was born in St Albans and has lived in the city her whole life, continued having screening every three years after she turned 70 and last January she was found to be suffering from breast cancer.

She has since been treated with radiotherapy ahd has to take special tablets for the next five years but is now free of cancer.

Without continuing breast screening after the cut-off age of 70, she might not have been so lucky.

Last week Public Health England (PHE) revealed that around 13,500 women over the age of 70 are diagnosed with breast cancer in England each year and survival rates in that age group are lower than in younger women.

Launching their Be Clear on Cancer campaign, PHE is urging the over 70s to be aware of symptoms and not ignore them.

One issue that was raised is that automatic screening stops at 70 but women can ask for it to continue on a three yearly basis.

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That was what Rosemary did after her daughter Janet was diagnosed with breast cancer and when she was diagnosed with the illness, Rosemary, who writes poems for her own enjoyment, wrote one and sent it to Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

The charity came back to her and said they might want to interview her and Janet at some stage. Then her daughter had a call from Breakthrough asking if they would travel down to London to do interviews on the subject.

In the event Sky, Channel 5, ITV and the BBC went to Rosemary’s home to film and interview her. For Rosemary, who doesn’t like having her photograph taken, the experience was better than she expected. She said: “I enjoyed it and completely forgot about the cameras.”

And of the value of screening after 70, she added: “It makes sense really.”