A Townsville mum-of-three is urging women to regularly check their breasts and attend BreastScreen mammograms after she began treatment for the disease this month – during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Lisa White – whose mother, Margaret Robertson, successfully beat breast cancer a decade ago – has now begun her own fight against the disease at Mater Private Hospital Townsville.
Lisa, 49, sought expert health advice when she found a lump in her left breast.
She is one of an estimated 20,000 Australian women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.
“At this point I am not entirely sure if I will need a mastectomy for one or two breasts - this will depend on whether my specific cancer is a genetic one or not,” Lisa said.
Lisa began her cancer treatment this week at the Icon Cancer Centre through the Mater Private Hospital Townsville, which will involve six rounds of chemotherapy, Her2 therapy followed by a mastectomy and reconstruction.
Despite the road ahead, Mrs White remains positive, feeling fortunate to know what to expect after watching her mum undergo a similar journey with breast cancer.
“So many people don’t have this insight and walk into it not knowing what to expect,” she said.
“I think having previously supported my mother through her cancer journey from diagnosis to remission has really eliminated a lot of the fear for me – as there really haven’t been too many ‘unknowns’.
“Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 and has been in remission for 10 years now.
“She actually got the all clear from her last yearly mammogram this week while she was waiting with me to have yet another biopsy.”
Mrs White is urging people to be more aware of the disease and more open about discussing treatment.
“I have made a point of being very open with my family, friends and colleagues about what has been happening with me as I really hope that by sharing my path to diagnosis and eventually recovery, that it will assist either them or their friends if this ever becomes part of their reality,” she said.
Dr Jason Boldery, General, Breast & Endocrine Surgeon, said improvements in treatment and care meant that more women are successfully beating or living with breast cancer.
“Breast cancer care has come a long way, but early detection remains absolutely vital,” she said.
“Women must regularly check their breasts and seek medical advice if they notice any changes.
“If you are invited to a mammogram, make sure you go.
“Breast cancer doesn’t care if you’re busy. A 10-minute mammogram could save your life.”
Breast Cancer Facts
- Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in Australia
- It’s estimated that more than 20,000 women and 200 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia in 2022
- One in every four women diagnosed with breast cancer in Queensland will be treated at a Mater hospital
- Patients diagnosed with breast cancer have a 92% chance of surviving 5+ years
- If cancer is limited to the breast, the five-year survival rate rises to 96%