Early de­tec­tion proves im­por­tance of check-ups

Nurse di­ag­nosed with can­cer en­cour­ages reg­u­lar mam­mo­grams

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - Danielle Jarvis

A MT Druitt nurse has urged women to get reg­u­lar mam­mo­grams af­ter she was di­ag­nosed with stage two breast can­cer.

Lour­des Catap, 55, shared her breast can­cer story re­cently in a West­ern Syd­ney Health video, aimed at re-it­er­at­ing the im­por­tance of reg­u­lar breast screen­ing.

An emer­gency depart­ment nurse, Mrs Catap said she owed her life to the early de­tec­tion pro­vided by a rou­tine mam­mo­gram at Mt Druitt Hospi­tal’s Sun­flower Clinic five years ago.

“I feel lucky that the mam­mo­gram picked up the can­cer so early,” Mrs Catap said. “I still re­mem­ber the mo­ment I was told I had breast can­cer — the ‘can­cer’ word just floored me.

“I don’t smoke or drink ... it just crushed me.”

Mrs Catap had had three pre­vi­ous mam­mo­grams and reg­u­larly checked her­self, but this par­tic­u­lar lump was hid­den be­hind her nip­ple.

Af­ter 21 years as a nurse, Mrs Catap was fa­mil­iar with can­cer — its ef­fects and treat­ments — but she never ex­pected to be di­ag­nosed with it her­self.

“I thought I couldn’t pos­si­bly have it; it’s not in my fam­ily,” she said. “That word ‘can­cer’ was never men­tioned in my fam­ily.”

Her med­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence pro­vided lit­tle com­fort.

“Your pre­vi­ous knowl­edge goes out the win­dow,” she said.

“It was like a big bomb­shell: ‘You’ve got can­cer’.”

Mrs Catap was keen to be in­volved in the video to en­cour­age women to get a mam­mo­gram done.

The nurse said women of­ten avoided get­ting their scan done be­cause they found it un­com­fort­able or em­bar­rass­ing.

“One in eight women will be di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer,” Mrs Catap said. “What is a mo­ment of dis­com­fort to a whole lot of pain?

“I’ve had friends and col­leagues tell me ‘it’s just a lump; my doc­tor said it was noth­ing’.

“Eigh­teen months down the track it’s stage five, it’s un­treat­able, ir­re­versible and it’s spread through­out the body.”

West­mead Breast Can­cer In­sti­tute di­rec­tor as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor Nir­mala Path­manathan said the video was made to en­cour­age women aged 50-74 to get a mam­mo­gram every two years.

“Breast Can­cer is the sec- ond big­gest can­cer killer of Aus­tralian women, yet only half of all el­i­gi­ble women in the Breast­Screen NSW tar­get age group are be­ing screened reg­u­larly,” Prof Path­manathan said.

Free breast screen­ing is avail­able at five BCI Sun­flower Clin­ics in West­ern Syd­ney.

To find your near­est clinic and book a free mam­mo­gram, call 13 20 50. View the video: mt druitt­stan­dard.com.au

Pic­tures: Phil Rogers

Mt Druitt Hospi­tal nurse Lour­des Catarp is shar­ing her breast can­cer jour­ney and (inset) she urges women to get a reg­u­lar breast screen­ing.

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