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Do you know your Lemons?

10th February 2017

No, really, this is a genuine question… You may, like me, have seen a recent post on Facebook aimed at spreading awareness of breast cancer. To comply with social media censorship rules, the woman behind the post was prevented from publishing pictures of her breasts so she turned, instead, to a different tactic. But before I reveal all, so to speak, please bear in mind that Cancer Research UK estimates that one in eight women will at some point in their lives be diagnosed with breast cancer, the most common cancer in the UK.

Determined to raise awareness of the disease, breast cancer patient Erin Smith Chieze came up with the ingenious and effective idea of posting a picture on Facebook of 12 lemons, originally used as part of Worldwide Breast Cancer’s #KnowYourLemons campaign.

This breast self-awareness campaign uses images of lemons to illustrate what breast cancer can look like and what women should be looking for when examining their breasts and, far from being dubbed ridiculous or disrespectful, Ms Chieze’s re-use of this remarkably simple idea has been embraced by the online community. It has, as they say, gone viral.

According to Cancer Research UK there were 11,433 deaths from breast cancer alongside more than 55,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer in 2014 alone, yet a straw poll among my female friends and colleagues points to an alarming tendency not to self-examine, as if denial will make everything alright.

But this disease is not going away without a fight. Every two minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancer. Early detection and treatment is key and, if it is detected and treated promptly, statistics indicate the majority of patients will survive five or more years.

In the spirit of these most recent awareness campaigns I heartily urge you to check for the signs and consult your doctor if you are at all alarmed — know your lemons, as they say.
Of course, I would quite understand if the concept of a solicitor offering advice on health matters strikes you as somewhat odd. However, if reading our column this week has helped throw a spotlight on the importance of catching breast cancer at an early stage or prompted you to find out more about this killer disease, I will have achieved my aim.

James Hawke is Head of Clinical Negligence at George Ide LLP in Chichester. He can be reached on 01243 812 459.

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