PSA member, Detective Superintendent Tara McGovern, has brought the national campaign to raise awareness of the importance of checking your body for signs of breast cancer to the Met, whilst battling the disease. As a former Hampshire officer she wants to roll this out nationally to other police forces and encourage others to look out for the signs of cancer to catch it early.
Tara, who works within the Central Specialist Crime Unit, discovered a lump in her breast in December last year, which was later found to be cancerous. Having lost her mother to the disease when she was just 11, Tara has regularly checked her breasts for lumps, which led to her finding the very small lump last year. Luckily, she found it early, her prognosis is very good, and is currently undergoing chemotherapy. The lump has gone and her surgery will be minimal.
During her time off work, Tara was watching the ITV Lorraine show when she saw their ‘Change and Check’ campaign, aimed at encouraging women to check their breasts when trying on clothes in changing rooms. She knew the campaign would be beneficial to staff and officers within policing – with many changing in and out of their uniforms at stations across London.
She contacted the show to see if they would supply some of their promotional materials to be put on display across the Met’s estate. ITV provided 10,000 stickers which have been distributed far and wide and Tara appeared on the show this week to talk about her aim to spread the message across the policing family.
Tara explains, “I feel lucky, positive and can’t wait to get back to my life. What could have been a major derailment has instead been a minor unpleasant detour, but I’ll be back soon – wiser, fitter, stronger, and feeling positive and extremely lucky.
“What I really want to share with everyone is – please check yourself regularly – whether you are a man or a woman. Get to know your body and if you don’t like the feel of something – act! It’s also really important to attend NHS health screenings as it really could save your life.
“I hope that by getting involved with this campaign, colleagues across other forces will join me in sharing this message and will display some of the ‘Change and Check’ stickers in changing rooms within their force.”
As Tara continues her treatment, other women from the Met have reached out and provided her with support and advice. Having felt the benefit of this comradery she has set up Breast Mates in the Met, a support group for women who have or have had breast cancer – with a view to support each other with the challenges the disease presents to women returning to work and provide a buddy to those newly diagnosed. The group is for both women, and men, and is also for those with loved ones affected by the disease. Tara is keen to assure colleagues in all forces, big or small, that they do not need to feel alone or isolated as friendship, advice and support is available.
Anyone who would like to request the ‘Change and Check’ promotional items can do so free of charge by contacting Tara on firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information on the campaign can be found here where you can also download the sticker showing how to check your breasts effectively.