Im­por­tance of self check­ing for can­cer

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Local News - EMMA JAMES

‘‘Don’t think it won’t hap­pen to you, be­cause can­cer doesn’t care who you are,’’ are wise words from Hin­uera res­i­dent Mar­i­ana Ma­hood.

Aware­ness cam­paigns for breast can­cer be­gin in Oc­to­ber, and Ma­hood is en­cour­ag­ing women to start check­ing for signs of the dis­ease.

‘‘I didn’t check my­self reg­u­larly, but one day when I was do­ing it I found a lump un­der my breast about where the un­der wire of my bra sits.

‘‘If I had checked more of­ten I would of found it ear­lier, it was quite big so it had ob­vi­ously been there for some time,’’ she said.

That was on April 29 this year. She was of­fi­cially di­ag­nosed on May 18.

Her doc­tor had put her on the semi-ur­gent list, as there was no his­tory of breast can­cer in the fam­ily and she didn’t smoke or drink.

‘‘I had been work­ing part time and go­ing to the gym, I thought it was the health­i­est I had ever been,’’ she said.

But within a week and a half she was feel­ing un­com­fort­able, and it be­came painful to wear a bra.

She had an ul­tra­sound pri­vately which meant she was able to de­tect the prob­lem a lot sooner.

She had to pay for that her­self but she en­cour­aged women to set money aside, if they could, so they had that op­tion as well.

Ma­hood sug­gested a date of the month to be a day to check your­self.

‘‘I was just wait­ing un­til I was 45 for my first mam­mo­gram, but if I had, then it would have been way too late. I was 41 when I was di­ag­nosed.’’

It was a good thing she made that de­ci­sion, be­cause the can­cer had al­ready spread to an­other lym­phn­ode.

Ma­hood had a mas­tec­tomy (breast re­moval) and af­ter three months of chemo­ther­apy she must un­dergo ra­dio­ther­apy.

She would then have five years of hor­monal ther­apy.

Ma­hood said a new drug was avail­able in New Zealand to treat sec­ondary can­cer, which de­layed the dis­ease, giv­ing peo­ple an ex­tra two years to live. three weeks of

More than 600 women a year die of breast can­cer in NewZealand.

Women have a one in nine chance of de­vel­op­ing breast can­cer dur­ing their life­time.

90-95 per cent of women who are di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer have no fam­ily his­tory of the dis­ease.

Ma¯ori women have an 42.8 per cent higher in­ci­dence of breast can­cer than non-Ma¯ori women.

About 20 men will be di­ag­nosed ev­ery year.

It wasn’t funded though, so peo­ple had to spend $5000 a month for the treat­ment.

She hoped it would be funded if enough aware­ness was raised.

‘‘About 600 women die of breast can­cer a year, and this medicine would ben­e­fit about 450 of them,’’ she said.

The Pink Rib­bon Street Ap­peal would be held in Mata­mata on Oc­to­ber 13 and 14, and a walk was be­ing held in Ro­torua on Oc­to­ber 18.

‘‘I’m go­ing to do it with a friend, but it will be right af­ter my last chemo ses­sion so we’ll see how I go,’’ said Ma­hood.

To reg­is­ter for pink rib­bon events, visit breast­cancer­foun­da­tion.org.nz.

There were also videos show­ing women how to check for lumps.

EMMA JAMES

Hin­uera res­i­dent Mar­i­ana Ma­hood tells her story of breast can­cer ahead of the Pink Rib­bon fundrais­ers. She was di­ag­nosed with Estro­gen Sus­cep­ti­ble Breast Can­cer in May this year.

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