BreastScreen Australia – Life after breast cancer

Listen to the stories of Judith, Julie, Clare and Merlinda on how early breast cancer screening saved their lives.


Because family history isn't the be all and end all of your risk of breast cancer. There are other risks, of course. If you can find the cancer early, your chance of survival is higher. It gives people peace of mind. I know when I have a test, be it breast screening or something else, it makes you feel comfortable that that's another thing ticked off your list. You can go on with your day.  It is important for me to tell you that, you know, I'm sitting here. I've had an amazing life since breast cancer diagnosis, and hopefully I'll go on and keep having a marvelous life. Going through a mastectomy is hard and what I've learned from all my friends who are breast cancer survivors is that everyone has different experiences.  I just felt that I'd be halfa woman, not a full woman, by having it off. And that's why I decided I wasn't gonna have it off. But when it come to the crunch and I seen those pictures of the fungus, that's when I decided I would have it off and I went ahead and had it done. My granddaughter kept pushing me to have the surgery, which I was dead against, but after all the facts were shown to me, yes, I did go and have it done and I'm glad that she did push me.  The driving force to get through a cancer diagnosis, for me, was my family. One of the biggest drivers, which I now know in hindsight, was the birth of my grandson. We didn't have any grandchildren when I was diagnosed. But now having him, it gives me even more motivation to keep up the good fight. It feels good because I've had two great granddaughters since then, and the family, my family is a lot closer than before and I enjoy life a bit more.  After diagnosis, it's not the end of the world. It's a small part of your story. Your story is so big, and my story will go on for many years to come, I hope, and I had a great story before diagnosis. Diagnosis of breast cancer hasn't defined me. It's impacted me, but it hasn't defined me.  After the diagnosis and the treatment and I've recovered, it's good to be alive and it's good to be back to the desk, my desk. I'm a writer and I'm back to full time writing, and I really value each day now to be alive and to have your life back, your career back, and your loved ones not worrying about you and not being impacted by the treatment, the pain, that you have gone through. That is wonderful. I've been very, very fortunate that post treatment, I got a PhD and have spent a lot of time researching and writing about dementia and just living life to the full. I think that's probably the thing that, if you just, you know, seize every day and just, you know, fulfill your dreams.  You still have hard days. But then there are so many positives in my life that I want to be around for. I have a screening every year now. I have mammograms and MRIs every year as part of my ongoing treatment. You need to get it early and you need to take charge of your life, have the treatment that's needed, so you can live a fulfilled life.  One other advice that I would give is talk. Talk about it. Share it with other women. Talk helps mental health.  I think it's important that I share my story because that's been my philosophy. My story is a positive one, I think. I'm still here years later.  I think of it in terms of the ripple effect. Okay, here is my experience of my first mammogram, my cancer journey. If I pass it on, if I tell the story to another woman, she will get her mammogram. And, I always, I tell my friends this, "You have to get your mammogram." And so then she does it and she has her experience about it, or with it, and hopefully she does not go through what I went through, and she passes it on to another woman and that woman passes it on. And can you imagine that ripple effect of survival, of saving not just one life, the multiplication of saving many lives from whatever place you come from, whatever culture, because you have talked about it, you have shared your story? Your life is precious, so you are going to fight with it because all of these wonderful people are in your camp and they will be fighting with you.

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Eligibility for free screening mammograms with BreastScreen Australia starts at 40, with those aged 50 to 74 invited to screen every 2 years.

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