Margarette’s story – Get your breasts screened even if you feel healthy

Margarette Fisher, a Nudendri woman, encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to have a breast screen.

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My name is Margarette Fisher and I’m a Nudendri  woman. I work for Derbal Yerrigan Health Service — have now for 5 years, this time, I’m also a specialist coordinator. I’m also a cancer facilitator who runs a small cancer support group here of 15 people, men and women.

BreastScreening Australia is saving lives.

I think making women aware that if they’ve got any concerns about their breasts … not to panic and think it’s cancer, but please come in and get checked out.

Come and see a GP or Aboriginal Health Worker, we’ll help you to book in with the screening mob and have your mammograms done.

The importance of early detection, is if there is abnormal cells they can get treatment early, survival rates, it’s a higher rate for them to survive. But leaving it and not worrying about it, and think ‘ah yes its going to go away’. It doesn’t, it just prolongs the treatment.

I think even if you feel healthy and normal, because some people don’t show signs, I think it’s always safe and better for them to get checked out.

If you’re feeling a little bit stressed out and uncomfortable let the ladies know before they do the mammogram so that they know to be a bit more sensitive. Or you can have one of us health workers in there with you while you’re having it done. Because some of them they tend to get shame. You know ‘I’m letting a, in our lingo, a wadjalla woman touch my breasts' and to them it’s really nerve-wrecking. So just being there for them.

And then we give them a cup of tea and a sandwich and they’re fine afterwards and I’ll say ‘was it that bad?’ and ‘oh no I don't know what I got all stressed out and worried about’. It was really good for them. And when you say to them so will you come back in a couple of years they say, ‘Yeah, yeah we’ll be back’. And if they can’t come back to our bus we try and cater for them in their communities.

Us women are the foundations of our families. And we need to take care of ourselves, we need to make sure we’re well to look after our families.

That’s why it’s good to catch it early instead of leaving it too late. You know, the heartache it causes. For the community as well, when we’ve lost someone in the community, the whole community feels it.

Go and get screened and checked. Don’t leave it. If you have any concerns contact your AMS, your health practitioners, BreastScreening — and please go and get checked out.

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Margarette is an Aboriginal health care worker. She explains the importance of breast screening, and talks about how some women might feel when they go for an appointment. Margarette emphasises that catching cancer early is better than leaving it until it’s too late

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