Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among Australian women. Although survival rates continue to improve, timing is the most crucial element, with early diagnosis key to beating this disease. October is Australia’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which provides us with an opportunity to focus on how it impacts our community. Women should check their breasts every day for changes, get to know them. Get your partners involved, I’m sure they’ll be happy to oblige!
Changes to look for include:
• a new lump or lumpiness, especially if only in one breast
• a change in the size or shape of your breast
• a change to the nipple, such as crusting, ulcer, redness or inversion
• a nipple discharge that occurs without squeezing
• a change in the skin of your breast such as redness or dimpling
• an unusual pain that doesn’t go away.
Many people do not realise that men can also develop breast cancer. Both men and women have breast tissue, although men obviously have much less. Breast cancer is uncommon in men but can happen; in 2010 127 men were diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia. Remember, timing is important, if you think something is wrong with your body don’t be afraid to speak up. You are not wasting a doctor’s time if it puts your mind at ease and definitely not if it saves your life.
Libbie Douglass is the President of the Breast Cancer Support Group for Orange and the surrounding districts. Libbie founded the group after she discovered she had breast cancer at the age of 38 and the group is now about to celebrate its 25th year! Members meet on the first Wednesday of every month at the HACCS Centre in March Street, Orange. All are welcome to attend. Libbie says “the big message is don’t be afraid. Keep up with your treatments; they’re very good these days. Initially it can feel like power and control is taken away from you and it’s all a bit full on but once that calms down its good to attend a group where people are going through the same experience that you are.” Anyone in need of support can contact Libbie on 0411518266 and for free resources and support, including the My Journey Kit for newly diagnosed women, go to www.bcna.org.au or contact the Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) on 1800 500 258.
By Rhi Quinn