Barnsley Council chief executive Sarah Norman reveals breast cancer diagnosis and encourages women to check for lumps

The chief executive of Barnsley Council has announced that she will be taking time off as she recives treatment for breast cancer.

Sarah Norman, who has been the council’s chief executive since July 2019, announced she will be off work for a month as she receives treatment, but her prognosis is good.

In a statement, Ms Norman said the diagnosis is “frustrating”, but that she looks forward to getting back to work afterwards.

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“I’ve recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and will be taking some time off for treatment. I am optimistic that it has been detected early and, therefore, that my prognosis is good and that my treatment won’t be too lengthy. They have already advised me that I am unlikely to need chemotherapy,” said Ms Norman.

Sarah NormanSarah Norman
Sarah Norman

“This is hugely frustrating for me as I just had returned from a holiday feeling refreshed, with renewed vigour to press forward with our Barnsley 2030 ambitions and our work within the council to deliver the Council Plan – to make Barnsley the place of possibilities.

“I am, however, trying to think about this as just an inconvenient pause, a little hiccup, before I can get back to the job I love. I have great confidence in ‘Team Barnsley’ to continue to make progress in my absence.

"At the moment, the doctors have advised me to plan to be off work for a month, and I am hoping it will be no more than that, although that will depend on the extent of my operation and radiotherapy. While I am away, Shokat Lal, Executive Director Core Services, will be deputising on my behalf.

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“As many as one in seven women get breast cancer in their lifetime, and it is one of the most treatable forms of cancer.

"Indeed one really helpful conversation I have had with a friend who is also a Professor of General Practice is that there almost needs to be a new name for it which takes away the cancer tag so that women see it as something important to identify and treat but not as a life-threatening disease.

“The key thing is catching it as early as you can, and I have found some comfort that when I spotted the lump, I acted on it straight away. It would have been so easy to convince myself that it wasn’t really anything and not gone to my GP.

“I am encouraging every woman I know to regularly check their breasts and get to know how they normally look and feel, so they can spot anything unusual.”

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