BreastScreen Australia – Overcoming barriers

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


I do think some women put off being screened for a fear of the outcome. That was me. It was exactly me. So, I can totally understand that. But it's something you've gotta do. I wanted to know if you know then you know how to respond. I just didn't think anything could happen and I didn't bother about it. And then my friend and my granddaughter kept pushing, so I went and had it done. I never imagined that I'd have breast cancer. There was absolutely no sign whatsoever to give me an inkling that I had breast cancer. I was perfectly well. I would never have found it by breast examination by self-examination. It was so tiny that I couldn't possibly have felt it. My family history of breast cancer is there. I have an auntie who died at the ripe old age of but she had a bilateral mastectomy and I had a cousin who was diagnosed after me but it didn't prepare me because it wasn't my own mother or my own sister. It didn't prepare me for the fact of getting that phone call. For women who are hesitant about having it done, don't hesitate, just go and have your scans done. It puts your mind and your body at ease and helps you with the process. And the outcome can often not be as scary as what you perceive it to be. Even when you do have to have a mastectomy, or chemotherapy or radiation, the support is always there to get you through those times. I think there's a preconceived idea that it's going to hurt and it's all sorts of other things. But to be honest, a breast screen mammogram is like, it might be uncomfortable and it might not be and it's only for a very, very short time. So, I think if we can encourage women and say, "Look, you know, it's not that onerous and it's only for a little time and it's only for an hour once every two years," we can all make time to do that particularly we owe it to our families, I think, to do that. And I was really, really busy at that time of my life. I had so much going on and that was part of my issue but it's something that is so important. Find time, make that lifesaving appointment. The phrase no time will take on a different meaning if you get breast cancer because it will mean you have really no time. And if you make time, you're actually saving your life, your livelihood and the people you love who will be impacted if you get breast cancer. These are my beloved parents and my mother passed away from renal cancer. My father died and I got diagnosed with cancer. Here's what I say to another woman like me who comes from another culture and having a stranger handle your breasts during the mammogram. In all my mammograms, I was very confident I was in good hands of wonderful, considerate, and culturally sensitive women. Once I found out what it was, it eased what was going through my mind. At the end of the screening when I get the result, I feel a huge weight has lifted. I feel like a million dollars. When you go, you don't understand exactly what's going on. So, they have a nurse that will talk to you. They have specialists that will talk to you. If you've gotta go and see a surgeon, your surgeon will explain to you exactly what's going on and how they can help you. And there's also cancer nurses that will keep in contact as you're going through the process of everything and there's always help out there for 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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