Breast cancer awareness month

13 October 2020

Eight women die every day in Australia from breast cancer which is why NT Health is urging Territorians to learn more about this disease. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and now is the time to learn more about the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the country’s most diagnosed cancer.

Darwin woman and breast cancer survivor Cathy Clarke was diagnosed in March 2018 after finding a lump in her breast. She underwent three surgeries, chemotherapy for five months from June 2018 and then radiation in November 2018. 

“Everything was going through my head, I thought I was going to die,” Ms Clarke said. “I am feeling good and am back at full-time work so I keep myself busy and don’t think about my breast cancer.”

Ms Clarke has successfully completed all treatment and is on five year surveillance. She said she had received wonderful support from the McGrath Breast Care Nurses and other staff at the Alan Walker Cancer Care Centre (AWCCC).

“The breast cancer nurses are great. They are wonderful people and will support you in so many ways. They are still supporting me even though I’m not having treatment anymore,’’ she said. “The staff at AWCCC are beautiful and wonderful people and I have so much respect for them and am so grateful for what they do.”

McGrath Breast Care Nurse at the AWCCC and Royal Darwin Hospital (RDH) Noelle O’Reilly, said 19,807 women and 167 men nationally were estimated to be diagnosed this year with breast cancer.

“That is 55 people who will be diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia every day this year,” she said. “In the Top End, there have been 85 newly diagnosed breast cancer patients at Royal Darwin Hospital since July 2019. In Australia, one in seven women will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the age of 85 while 3,000 people will lose their life this year to the disease.

“Breast cancer affects people of all ages, so it’s important that everyone checks their breasts regularly to pick up any changes,” Ms O’Reilly said. “Breast checks are important because if you know how your breasts normally look and feel, you’re more likely to notice a change if it develops. Women and men can be diagnosed with breast cancer. Anybody can. The sooner you see your GP after finding a change in your breast, the better.”

3 Simple steps for checking your breasts every month

Follow these three simple steps to check your breasts and remember to repeat each month:

  • Look – at the shape and appearance of your breasts
  • Feel –all of your breasts and nipples
  • Learn – what’s normal for you!

Getting help

Territorians affected by breast cancer can seek practical and emotional support by contacting the cancer care coordinators at Royal Darwin Hospital and the Alan Walker Cancer Care Centre on (08) 8922 8888.

The support of a McGrath Breast Care Nurse, such as Noelle, is available for free and without a doctor’s referral. It’s as simple as visiting the McGrath Foundation website and entering your postcode to find the nurse nearest you.

Source: Northern Territory Government, Department of Health Media Release 16 October 2020


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