Hume council mayor Helen Patsikatheodorou opened up about her own breast cancer battle while helping to open a permanent BreastScreen clinic in Sunbury on Monday.
Describing herself as the proud ‘‘pink’’ mayor of the municipality, Cr Patsikatheodorou said the state’s 40th fixed clinic, which replaces a mobile service operating between towns including Sunbury, Gisborne and Kyneton, would greatly improve screening hours.
‘‘We now have the opportunity to boost the participation rate, helping to tackle the most common cancer amongst women,’’ she said.
Cr Patsikatheodorou was able to return to work thanks to early detection and a successful operation to remove the tumour more than two years ago.
With data showing one in nine women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, she said regular screening was crucial.
‘‘My grandmother, mother and mother in law all died from complications of breast cancer,’’ Cr Patsikatheodorou said.
‘‘Early detection gives women the best chance of treatment and recovery.’’
HUME MAYOR HELEN PATSIKATHEODOROU, JILL HENNESSY AND JOSH BULL OPEN SUNBURY’S NEW BREASTSCREEN CLINIC. (SUPPLIED)
Cr Patsikatheodorou said she had worn something pink every day of her mayoral term ‘‘so husbands, sons, brothers, partners and friends will be remind the women in their lives to have a breast screen’’.
‘‘No woman in our community should die from breast cancer,’’ she said.
BreastScreen chief executive Vicki Pridmore said the new clinic at Lake Imaging’s site in Horne Street would help save lives.
She said rapid population growth meant the area had ‘‘outgrown’’ a mobile service which visited towns once every two years.
‘‘A fixed clinic helps us provide a clinic all year round, which gives great flexibility for women and allows those women who are of high risk to attend on a regular basis,’’ Ms Pridmore said.
Health Minister Jill Hennessy said while some people would be inconvenienced, the fixed clinic would allow for up to 2600 local women to be screened every year.
‘‘With the mobile service, it was a significantly lower number,’’ she said.
‘‘This is an incredibly important change when we look at the growth of the north-west region.’’
Ms Hennessy said there was a direct correlation with the introduction of BreastScreen programs and significant improvement in breast cancer survival rates.
‘‘We now have a 95 per cent survival rate,’’ she said.
‘‘Prevention and early diagnosis is the most important thing.’’
Data shows BreastScreen services are well-supported by local women, with participation data averaging 57.5 per cent across Gisborne, Kyneton and Sunbury, above the state average of 56 per cent.
Details: www.breastscreen.org.au or 13 20 50