Breast cancer survivor Kerri Welsh is urging women in NSW to make time for a mammogram.
Her message is part of a new BreastScreen NSW campaign encouraging women aged 50-74 to give themselves the best chance of finding breast cancer early.
Kerri’s story is a reminder of the importance of prioritising your health – she delayed the mammogram that ended up saving her life.
“Like too many women, I had been putting off my mammogram due to work and life commitments,” Kerri says.
“I almost cancelled again. I am so thankful every day that I didn’t, as the mammogram showed I had breast cancer.”
She urges women not to be complacent about their health – to make breast screening a priority.
“It’s only 20 minutes out of your life; it’s easy and it’s free,” she says.
“My story could have ended so differently.”
While she had a mastectomy, she required no chemotherapy, no radiation – if she had waited another month or two that could have been vastly different.
Professor David Currow, Chief Cancer Officer and CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW, says making time for a mammogram every two years is one of the most important things a woman aged 50-74 can do.
“Women often cite time as a constraint to having a mammogram – we want to emphasise that good health, and living cancer free should be a priority for women and their families,” says Professor Currow.
“If you are aged between 50 and 74, book your mammogram now – don't put it off until it's too late.”
Mammograms can detect the undetectable
Kerri’s experience demonstrates the life-saving potential of regular screening.
As she didn’t have a lump, Kerri’s cancer would not have been detected at such an early stage without a mammogram.
“I had no symptoms, no lump. I wouldn’t have found it any other way until it was much more advanced,” she says.
BreastScreen NSW Program Manager Naomi Combe says there is a common misperception that undertaking regular self examinations replaces the need to have a mammogram.
“For women aged 50-74, this is simply not true,” she says.
“BreastScreen NSW uses state of the art equipment that can detect cancers the size of a grain of rice, long before you or your doctor can see or feel anything abnormal.”
20 minutes, 200 locations
Director of BreastScreen NSW Northern Sydney and Central Coast, Meredith Kay, says the convenience of getting a mammogram in NSW means there’s no excuse not to be screened regularly.
“A mammogram only takes around 20 minutes every two years and doesn’t require a GP referral,” she says.
“We also have over 200 locations across the state, so it’s really a very small investment in time that could end up saving your life.”
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Australian women, claiming the lives of 900 NSW women each year.
This year alone over 5,000 people in NSW will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and finding their breast cancers early is the key to survival.
BreastScreen NSW recently released the Find the NSW 2000 campaign to identify women in the state who currently have breast cancer and don’t know it.
Visit BreastScreen NSW to find out more about the breast screening program, or book your mammogram today.