Eight years ago, having just achieved her ambition of being elected Mayor of Lismore, Councillor Jenny Dowell was given some potentially life-changing news after her routine mammogram. Here she tells her story.
I still remember the day I was called back; it was September 17. That's when the 'suspicious lesion' that was found on my first mammogram was confirmed by another mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy. It was an awful shock because it never occurred to me that I was being called back for any other reason than a blurry scan. It was even more of a shock because it came only four days after the joy of being elected Mayor of Lismore.
The staff at BreastScreen NSW in Lismore were wonderful for all of my 10 screenings before I was diagnosed with breast cancer and especially on that dreadful day. They called in a surgeon and other professionals to give me information and to support me. I could not have asked for more. They gave me the information I needed without giving false hope or a patronising manner. They were fantastic.
Lismore is fortunate to have BreastScreen NSW here and within reasonable travel times for many other Northern Rivers towns. The mobile van is also an absolute must for rural towns further afield. Unfortunately, some women still put off screening because they don’t think they are at risk of getting breast cancer or they haven’t felt a lump in their breast.
What I would say to those women is that what you don't know can hurt you... in fact it can kill you. The earlier a breast cancer is detected, the better the outcome.
I had no palpable lump but through BreastScreen NSW, my cancer was detected. I had a mastectomy and chemotherapy and now, nearly four years later, I'm living well and loving life.
It wasn't easy. In fact it was horrible, but I have found a new lease of life. So, women out there: have that mammogram; get to know the look and feel of your breasts. Hopefully all will be well, but if not, get treatment. Thanks BreastScreen NSW for being there for me.