‘I thought it was all over’, sur­vivor says

Papakura Courier - - FRONT PAGE - EMILY FORD

You’re too young for breast cancer, it’s prob­a­bly noth­ing to worry about, a doc­tor told Anete Smith 15 years ago.

She was in her 30s and had re­cently em­i­grated to New Zealand from the United King­dom.

The Auck­land res­i­dent had spent the pre­vi­ous two weeks work­ing up the courage to get a lump on her right breast checked out.

That lump was some­thing to worry about, it turns out, and had Smith ac­cepted that doc­tor’s ad­vice she might not be alive to­day.

In­stead, she sought a sec­ond opin­ion and was given the news no woman wants to hear - she had breast cancer.

Rounds of chemo­ther­apy, ra­dio­ther­apy and a lumpec­tomy fol­lowed. Six months later, at a sched­uled mam­mo­gram check, cancer was dis­cov­ered in her left breast. That was a dev­as­tat­ing blow.

‘‘I thought it was all over, but it wasn’t. I would have to go through it all over again... It felt like I lost con­trol of my body and I tried to find ways of tak­ing con­trol of it again.’’

Smith had a dou­ble mas­tec­tomy, a hard de­ci­sion, but one she’s pleased with. She said while she was im­pressed with the stan­dard of health­care in New Zea- land com­pared to over­seas, she wished doc­tors would take it more se­ri­ously.

‘‘Be­ing younger it can be quite dan­ger­ous be­cause you don’t take it se­ri­ously and you don’t re­alise you can get it.’’

Nearly two decades later, the 51-year-old is con­fi­dent her cancer bat­tle is over.

Of the nine women who get di­ag­nosed with breast cancer to­day, one of those will be a lady younger than 45.

That’s 365 young women a year, ac­cord­ing to the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foun­da­tion.

It’s likely th­ese young women are de­tect­ing cancer through symp­toms like lumps or pain, foun­da­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Evan­gelia Hen­der­son said.

The reg­u­lar screened mam­mo­grams are avail­able ev­ery two years and are free for women aged 45 to 69 and not rec­om­mended for women un­der 40.

This month Smith is one of three sur­vivors shar­ing her story for the Breast Cancer Foun­da­tion’s aware­ness cam­paign.

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