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Each year 55,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK – that’s one person every 10 minutes. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an annual campaign during October to increase the awareness of the disease. Misdiagnosis of cancer does happen more than you would think, and for a variety of reasons.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month reminds the public to ensure that they check for symptoms, this can include monthly self-examinations or by attending a scan. Read our post on How to Check Your Own Breasts for more information.

The failure to diagnose or undetect breast cancer and it’s symptoms are fatal as this gives the opportunity for the disease to advance to a more serious stage, and increase the risk of harming the patient and lowering the cure rate. It’s not just older women who experience breast cancer, it can also happen at a younger age.

Anikka Burton was misdiagnosed and had to fight for a biopsy despite her family history. At a young age, Annika’s mother passed away with breast cancer and when Anikka found herself experiencing symptoms of breast cancer she was told by doctors that it definitely wasn’t cancer. After the struggle for a biopsy, Anikka was diagnosed with an aggressive, locally advanced primary breast cancer in 2011 at just 33 years of age. Anikka has gone on to have the full works of chemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiotherapy, hormonal therapy and 5 operations to date. During treatment she wrote a blog to help others through treatment: www.chemoforbeginners.com.

From her negative experience, Anikka went on to create a positive with the launch of Not Another Bunch of Flowers, of which Anikka says:

“Sometimes our light bulb moments don’t come from positive experiences. It can be the hardest things we go through in life that inspire our creativity. I hope that from my actions I inspire and motivate others to see there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Unfortunately, a misdiagnosis can happen to anyone. Going through a cancer diagnosis can be an unexplainable, terrifying and uneasy experience. If you feel that you have been given a misdiagnosis, don’t be afraid to seek another doctor or specialist elsewhere.

To avoid a misdiagnosis, it’s vital that you let your Doctor know exactly how you are feeling. Here are 5 steps to avoid misdiagnosis:

  1. Seek a specialist.
  2. Write down each symptom.
  3. Know your medical history.
  4. Describe and be specific about your symptoms while talking with your doctor.
  5. Question. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you possibly can.

Editor’s Notes: Not Another Bunch of Flowers

Not Another Bunch of Flowers is an online web shop set up by Anikka Burton to help friends and family of poorly people make thoughtful gift choices for their loved ones.

Anikka was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 aged 33, and has had the full works of chemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiotherapy, hormonal therapy and 5 operations to date. When first diagnosed, Anikka’s friends, family and colleagues sent so many bunches of flowers that she ran out of vases, jugs, pint glasses… until she was putting them in saucepans and anything else that would hold water! Not Another Bunch of Flowers was founded on the principle that whilst flowers are bright and beautiful amongst the gloom of illness, there are only so many a girl needs!

Buying an alternative present can be a difficult choice: some usual food and drink gift options may be off the cards; some ingredients in toiletries must also be avoided by some, such as parabens, sulphates and even some natural ingredients. Not Another Bunch of Flowers helps shoppers pick out the right practical (never boring!) gifts for those going through chemo, such as eye masks, button front pyjamas, beanies, and all sorts of bits and bobs you would never have thought of if you hadn’t been through it yourself.

Not Another Bunch of Flowers is generally known for supplying gifts for cancer patients – due to Anikka’s personal story and the resulting PR. However, Not Another Bunch of Flowers also sells general get well gifts, hospital gifts and gifts for mums-to-be and new mums.

The website offers a wide range of gifts such as jewellery, nightwear, quilts, puzzles, beauty products and sweets. You can also buy cards for every occasion: get well cards, empathy cards, cards for mums-to-be or birthday cards. And on top of that the website features a blog where you can find supportive and useful tips for specific situations.