Diane is a 67-year-old grandmother from Tauranga who has volunteered as a Pink Ribbon Street Appeal collector for the past two years. Diane was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016 and she credits her survival to the free breast screening programme. She wants all women to know the importance of going for regular mammograms, because catching her cancer early is what saved her life.
A routine mammogram in February 2016 picked up a very small lump in the midline between my breasts, which couldn’t be felt at all. I had started going for mammograms in 2009, while I was living in London. When I came back to New Zealand I continued having the free two-yearly mammograms that are offered here.
Four weeks after being diagnosed, I had a wide local incision which took out the lump and surrounding tissue and a tissue sample of my lymph nodes. I then had four weeks of radiation and I’ve been clear ever since. For the rest of my life I’ll have yearly mammograms to make sure it doesn’t return.
I give my heartfelt thanks to whoever read my scan and noticed the lump. I was told it took a very good eye to see it. The lump was so small, and in an unusual position. I know other women who have had breast cancer that was caught too late – they’ve had to have mastectomies and chemotherapy. I know I’m very lucky not to have to go through the same, and that’s only because my cancer was caught early enough.
The message I have for women is to go for your regular mammograms, and also do self-examinations. If you notice any changes, even little ones, please go and see your doctor. And if your doctor sends you away, go back and say you’re not happy with their advice and ask for a second opinion.