An Essex mum who underwent surgery for breast cancer earlier this year has taken part in a top photoshoot to support a national awareness campaign by the NHS and major supermarket chain, Morrisons.
Natalie Robinson discovered a lump in her breast in April and underwent a mastectomy and breast reconstruction at Basildon Hospital.
Despite the initial shock, physiotherapist Natalie is delighted with the success of her surgery and is extremely grateful to the NHS as she can continue enjoying life with her family, including her three-year-old daughter.
Now Natalie appears in a national campaign to raise awareness of early signs of breast cancer, by modelling a unique range of underwear with special labels that remind women to check for breast cancer and men for testicular cancer.
“As someone who is going through cancer, I’m passionate about raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer,” she said.
“The underwear carries such a vital message and I want to help encourage as many shoppers as possible to contact their GP practice if they see any unusual changes to their breasts, it could save their life.”
From today (Monday 21 August 2023), Morrisons shoppers in the east of England will find NHS advice on underwear labels urging them to contact their GP practice if they spot potential symptoms of breast or testicular cancer.
The Nutmeg branded underwear featuring NHS advice will be in 240 Morrisons stores nationwide, appearing first in boxer shorts, followed by crop top bras in the coming months.
NHS guidance will be displayed on the fabric labels alongside the standard sizing and care information. There will also be a QR code on the packaging and tags linking customers through to more detailed information on breast and testicular cancer on the NHS website.
The East of England Cancer Alliances are supporting the campaign as part of their work to transform local NHS cancer services.
Miss Gill Clayton, Consultant Breast Surgeon at Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, is the region’s clinical lead for breast cancer. She said: “Natalie is doing a fantastic job in raising awareness about signs and symptoms of breast cancer. In our region we are focused on ensuring that people know how to check themselves, as Natalie did, and to attend screening which can detect cancer early on and greatly improve outcomes. Natalie has shown enormous courage in sharing her positive experience of breast cancer to help others.”
Morrisons is the first UK supermarket to roll out the new labels and the first-of-its-kind partnership for the NHS is the latest move in a significant drive to ensure people are aware of the signs and symptoms of cancer.
If people notice symptoms that could be cancer, they should contact their GP and come forward for checks as early as possible so they can get the all-clear, or in some cases, a cancer diagnosis sooner to give them the best chance of surviving the disease.
Symptoms of breast cancer can include a lump or change in the look, shape or feel of one or both breasts, while symptoms of testicular cancer can include painless swelling or a lump in one of the testicles or any change in shape or texture of the testicles.
National figures show that 91% of women survive for at least five years if diagnosed at an early stage of breast cancer, where the tumour is small (stage one), whereas this reduces to 39% where the cancer has spread to other parts of the body (stage four).
While nearly all men survive testicular cancer, if the cancer has spread, survival for five years or more can reduce to 65%.
NHS England’s National Director for Cancer, Dame Cally Palmer, said: “This is the first time the whole of the NHS has worked with a national supermarket brand to put health messaging on clothing, with the aim of encouraging thousands more people to be body aware, so they can spot new or unexplained changes that might be cancer symptoms early, and contact their GP practice for checks if concerned.
“Cancer survival is at an all-time high – survival for both breast and testicular cancers have improved significantly over the last 50 years and we’re seeing more people than ever before diagnosed at an early stage – and this partnership with Morrisons is just one of the many ways we are ensuring people are aware of potential cancer symptoms.
“I want to urge everyone to be aware of their own bodies – please look out for lumps and bumps or anything else that is unusual for you – and get checked out early, it could save your life.”
David Scott, Corporate Affairs Director at Morrisons, said: “We are proud to be leading the way in offering NHS England a new route to reach customers with important messages about body awareness and the symptoms of breast and testicular cancer.
“The new care labels on our crop top bras and boxers urge people to get to know their bodies so that they can more easily notice changes and to contact their GP practice sooner if something doesn’t feel right. In the majority of cases, it won’t be cancer, but where it is cancer, diagnosing it early means treatments are more likely to be successful and can ultimately save lives.”
More people than ever before are being seen and treated by the NHS for cancer – in the last year the number of people receiving lifesaving checks for cancer hit nearly three million (2.92m) – more than any other year on record.
Thanks to extensive NHS campaigns and early diagnosis initiatives, a higher proportion of cancers than ever before were diagnosed at an early stage in the year 2022-2023 – 58% of cancers diagnosed at stage one or two compared to 56% before the pandemic.
The NHS across the east of England is harnessing the very latest technology and initiatives such as community lung health checks and trials of a blood test that can detect up to 50 cancers before symptoms appear, to diagnose cancer earlier and achieve its goal of diagnosing three quarters of all cancers at stage one or two by 2028.
The NHS is also accelerating the use of innovations like teledermatology for diagnosing skin cancer, which is already seeing some areas double the number of patients seen and speeding up diagnosis and treatment for thousands of patients in the region with skin cancer.
If something in your body doesn’t feel right, and you’re worried it could be cancer, contact your GP practice, or for more information visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/cancer/symptoms/.