"Well I saw this post on Facebook..."

For as long as it has been around, social media has received a vast amount of criticism. Whilst it is true that social media has a dark side, that is not to say it doesn't have its uses when it comes to making connections with people from all over the world, politically organising, and sharing important information.

In my case, a Facebook friend shared this image on their timeline.

Two weeks later I was referred to hospital for a breast exam.

As soon as I saw the post I stopped to read. Breast cancer is not something any of us take lightly, and with the image having very clear illustrations and little text, it made for a brilliant, informative post which could be shared far and wide.

It then hit me that I had three of the eight symptoms listed. Although I, and I’m sure everybody out there knows to check their breasts regularly for lumps, I had no idea that rashes, inverted nipples, or a lump in the armpit were also signs of breast cancer.

I was reluctant to make a GP appointment, purely because I’m in and out of the doctors a lot and I didn’t want them to think I was a hypochondriac, but I knew this was too important to not get checked out and I managed to get an appointment that week.

I was seen by a fantastic doctor, who made me feel really comfortable despite her having a good fondle of my boobs. I told her about the post and that I was worried because I had some of the symptoms, but also kept a level head knowing that they could be completely benign.

Once my exam had finished she told me she didn’t think there was anything out of the ordinary. She explained that most women have small bumps in the breast, sometimes referred to as breast mice: this, again, was something I never knew about. She said that despite her being sure there was nothing wrong, she would refer me to the hospital just in case for a more thorough examination.

A week later I was seen by a specialist who also examined me. He reiterated what my GP said and told me he didn’t think there was anything to be worried about but he would still send me for an ultrasound to make sure.

I was then taken to a private room where several other women were already waiting. It occurred to me whilst I sat there that statistically, at least one of us will be receiving bad news today, and that was a harrowing thought.

Ten minutes later I was called in. The radiographer put the gel on my breast and ran the ultrasound machine over the areas I was experiencing problems. She checked once, and then checked again before telling me everything looked completely fine and I was good to go.

The entire process took less than an hour, and every member of staff I encountered were wonderful, warm, and friendly. I am so thankful that I was given the all clear, but I am also now more aware of other symptoms of breast cancer to look out for, and know that the NHS will provide an exemplary service should I need them in the future.

I’m so glad that, despite two doctors saying they didn’t think anything was wrong, they put me forward for an ultrasound anyway. But I am also incredible grateful to the person who posted the image in the first place. Had I not seen it who knows how long it would have been before I got my breasts checked out.

Social media will always have its fads. and downsides Things become viral, are posted worldwide, and many people react negatively and take the piss. But posts like the one above are both necessary and important, and social media provides an incredible tool to share this information on a mass scale, and I honestly wonder how many other people also saw this image, became concerned, and went to their doctors. I wonder how many got the news they dreaded, and how many will recover and owe their lives to a Facebook post.

Words by Amy Walker