The thought of having breast cancer was on my mind before I went and had my mammogram. I'd had one previously about six years earlier and that was fine, but I felt as though something had changed. I just had a feeling something was wrong. It took me a while to make that decision to go and have the mammogram. When I turned , I think I got a letter saying that I was eligible to have a breast screen. And because I'm very proactive about women's health, I went and I think I had four breast screens I think before I was diagnosed with breast cancer. 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. Yeah, the feeling of intuition, it's odd. I didn't present as a normal breast cancer patient. There was no lump as such, but there was a thickening of the tissue and there was a bit of a change of shape of the breast and it just gnawed away at me. And until I thought, "I've got to go and do something about this, I can't leave it any longer." That was really very reassuring to have an all-female staff and a female radiographer, for that matter. I think of it this way, the cultural sensitivity and being a Filipina. I have to remember before I am a Filipina, I am a female body that I need to take care of, so go, get your breast screen, get your mammogram.
First of all, book the appointment. I didn't have to wait very long. I was very lucky, I got in rather quickly. Then I went in, they ask you to remove the top part of your clothing, give you a gown, so it's all very respectful. You go into the mammography room and there's just the one technician. Like I said, it only takes a few minutes to do both sides. It wasn't painful, which is I think something that did surprise me. It was a little bit uncomfortable but it was by no means painful. And then at the end of it, it's just put clothes back on and that's it. So it's a really, really straight forward process and I think they're so skilled at doing it. There's no mucking around. After I had my screening, I thought everything was fine, but then I got a phone call telling me, that I had to go back the next day to have an ultrasound. I went back in the afternoon to have the ultrasound and a doctor spoke to me first to say exactly what they found, and then they took me in for an ultrasound. They went away. They came back again and told me that I had to have a biopsy. And so, they prepared me that same day to have the biopsy done and I had it done. And then two days later they rang me up and told me that I had cancer in the breast. You're being told at that phone call, we need you to come back in 'cause it looks suspicious. It's scary. It puts you in a place that's just unfamiliar. Well, it shocked me really. I was quite confident that I was in good hands. And they also explained to me what will happen after. And that's so important. What are the treatments? What are my options? And so, you are well-informed and all of these, all of these talking, the conversations, I call them conversations, not medical consultations because I was talking. It was a conversation between a human being, and another human being who cares that you go through this confident and... And that you will survive. Everything I was explained, I was informed every bit of the way. Please have a breast screen because if you're like me, they can pick up a very, very tiny breast cancer in your breast and you can have treatment and still be alive like me and see your hair turn white.
Eligibility for free screening mammograms with BreastScreen Australia starts at 40, with those aged 50 to 74 invited to screen every 2 years.