Early detection proves importance of check-ups
Nurse diagnosed with cancer encourages regular mammograms
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
Mt Druitt Hospital nurse Lourdes Catarp is sharing her breast cancer journey and (inset) she urges women to get a regular breast screening.