Cheryl’s story – I didn’t think it would happen to me

Cheryl Flanders shares her story about surviving breast cancer. Breast screening saved her life and she encourages other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to have the screening mammogram.


I’m Cheryl Flanders. I come from New South Wales, the mid north coast. A small little town called Bowraville.

I moved to Yarrabah in 1979.

I was having breast screening every 2 years from then, and I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

So I had the operation then in 2006. January. They just removed the lump.

Went through the chemo and the radiation and then went on hormones for 5 years.

This is 10 years for me now that I’ve been cancer free. Big milestone when you had cancer.

Well you just don’t think it’s going to be you. I didn’t think so. My job here in the community, I was working at the women’s resource centre and I was supporting a lot of people who went through cancer. And I didn’t think it would happen to me but it did.

I always encourage my family to make sure that they get breast screening.

Indigenous women are very private people. They don’t really like to share their private, personal stuff.

I know shame has a lot to do with it. But don’t be shame. Your life is more important. If you manage to get it early, early detection is best.

You have to get breast screened. Because the one that I had, they didn’t even know it was there. It got picked up with the mammogram and thank god it was very early stages.

Don’t be afraid because they’re there to help you. And you couldn’t get anyone more caring than someone who is taking a mammogram of you. It causes discomfort. But I mean a few minutes of discomfort and you’re still sitting there 10 years later, I wouldn’t worry about that too much.

Go get your mammograms done, saved me, and I’m so grateful...

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Cheryl tells her story a decade after surviving breast cancer. Working at a Woman’s Resource Centre, supporting other women through their cancer journey, Cheryl never thought this would happen to her but it did. Breast screening saved her life and encourages other women to get their mammograms done.

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