A Sunbury nurse who underwent a lumpectomy, double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, after being diagnosed with breast cancer, has urged women to make sure they are screened at least every two years.
Geraldine Wilson said she had waited six years between breast screens when she received the dreaded news in late 2007.
Data released last week revealed that less than 60 per cent of women aged 50-69 in the Sunbury and Macedon electorates had been tested by BreastScreen Victoria between 2012 and 2014.
Ms Wilson warned that no woman could afford to put it off.
‘‘My journey, although I’m surviving, might have been a lot easier had I gone in early,’’ she said. ‘‘I’d had a breast reduction, so I had lumpy breasts anyway. I went to the doctor and he said ‘Geri, you need to have a test done’.
‘‘That was in February. Because I’m a nurse and I was working at the Northern [hospital], I was just too busy and thought I’ll let it go, there’s nothing there. I eventually went and had the mammogram that September.’’
To her horror, Ms Wilson was diagnosed with cancer, which, by the time of her operation, had progressed from level one to level three.
This was just the beginning of what has been a long and arduous process.
‘‘Because it was a level three cancer, I was told to have a mastectomy,’’ she said. ‘‘I chose to have a double.’’
Ms Wilson, who is now in remission, said the help of support services, including counsellors, had been crucial to her recovery.
‘‘Some people think they have to do this journey themselves, and just give up,’’ she said. ‘‘Those support people are the ones who make you think, yes I can do this, yes I can survive. If you know where to look, there’s wonderful support. I can’t stress enough how important those people are.’’
Parliamentary health secretary and Macedon MP Mary-Anne Thomas said a regular breast screen, at least every two years, was the best way to find cancer early, with early diagnosis the key to survival.
‘‘This data reminds us that we have more to do to raise awareness of the importance of regular breast screening,’’ Ms Thomas said.
For details of mobile screening services, visit www.breastscreen.org.au