Breast cancer awareness
Cancer survivor Catherine Jones tells Peninsula Living about the significance of spreading breast cancer awareness and the importance of breast screening.
Catherine Jones, 43, was leading a busy life as a mother of two young children, five and seven, a teacher and a wife before she decided to get her first breast check-up in June this year.
“I was on Facebook one day and an advert came up for breast screenings and I saw that the age was from 40 years old. I thought, ‘Well if it’s 40 then I need to go get my check-up’, so I booked in straight away and I went for my first screening in June,” the Collaroy Plateau resident says.
Catherine says she has a friend who has had cancer in the past, and their story also prompted her to go get herself checked.
Unexpectedly, after her first mammogram, she was informed she had early stages of breast cancer and, a few weeks later, she underwent a mastectomy to have the tumour removed.
“I was lucky enough to catch it at very early stages and I was lucky enough to have it removed,” Catherine says.
“I had absolutely no signs, symptoms, concerns, worries, history, so mine was one of those cases where you don’t expect it to happen at all because I wasn’t concerned.”
Catherine has grabbed her experience with both hands and used it to help others by spreading awareness. She now advocates to those around her, including her friends, to get breast checks, which they otherwise would not have done.
“A lot of people think you have to wait until you are 50 or older, I don’t think people are aware that you can go as young as 40 to get a free scan,” she says.
“People shouldn’t wait, if you are of the age where you can get a check-up, you need to do it regardless of whether you’ve had a history or you have concern.”
Catherine was singing the praises of all the healthcare professionals who have helped her in her journey and expresses how fortunate she feels to have had amazing, lifechanging healthcare.
“I had daily nurse visits post-surgery, breast care nurses checking in, physiotherapists, and weekly visits to my doctor, Dr Samriti Sood, to check my progress after the operation,” she says.
“I have also had so much amazing support from my family, friends and the community throughout my journey.
“My husband and children have been my rocks. When you look into your children’s eyes, you know you will do anything to fight cancer. They make you stronger.”
Catherine says there is not enough awareness surrounding breast cancer and that it can get pushed down the list of priorities, especially with hard-working mums like herself.
“As busy, working mums, we tend to neglect ourselves, but we need to make sure that we get our regular check-ups regardless of how busy we are. Our health should be our priority,” she says.
“I think people who have had cancer need to share their stories, so that people are aware you don’t need to have symptoms to get cancer. I never thought it would be me.
“I am so thankful I am cancer-free, but also constantly think of those who aren’t as fortunate as me,” she adds.
“Hopefully, if we can raise awareness, we can help others to get an early diagnosis like me or raise more funds to support cancer research.”
For more information on breast cancer treatment options, contact Northern Beaches Breast Clinic on 7229 3188. To book in a breast screening, contact BreastScreen NSW at breastscreen.nsw.gov.au.