This October be Breast Aware

30 September 2022

This October mother of two daughters Jo Brassington is encouraging all women to be aware of breast cancer symptoms and the importance of routine screening.

Jo has been attending the Wesley Breast Clinic since 2010 as she has a strong family history of breast cancer.

"My mum was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer when she was 51, and had a ten-year battle with the disease before she passed away," Ms Brassington said.

"I was about 17 in my last year of school when she was diagnosed. She had treatment and went into remission but sadly succumb to the disease.

"Mum always encouraged us to look after our health. She would come into the Wesley Breast Clinic for her scans and said it was the only place she would ever go."

Including her mother, Jo's sister and four aunts on her father's side of the family have also had breast cancer and believes such a strong family history should be taken seriously.

"My sister was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 40 in a routine scan here. That makes me think I'm doing everything I can to stay on top of it so I don't have to worry so much," she said.

"When I was here last I had a rash on my breast. I told my GP I just want to go to get it checked at the Wesley as they are so thorough and comprehensive and you see a doctor on the day. It takes some of the anxiety out of it.

"I come twice a year, alternating MRI and Mammogram and Ultrasound. I'd rather be conservative and check any breast changes given the family history. It always has come back fine."

Jo said when she turned 40 she was anxious thinking how old her sister had been when she was diagnosed.

"We support each other and will often do our tests together. We often bring each other for support. It is anxiety provoking but the flipside it means that I know I'm doing everything I can and eases some of that anxiety," she said.

"My sister took an aggressive treatment plan because of the family history and had a double mastectomy and chemotherapy to treat her cancer however fortunately is today in remission.

"I also had a consultation with a geneticist and I have no BRCA 1 or 2 gene. But there is clearly a strong genetic factor in the family."

Breast Care Nurse Jenny Treloar said Jo was doing the right thing by having frequent screening due to such strong family history.

"Routine screening begins from age 40. If you have a family history, imaging begins from 10 years prior to the first-degree relative's diagnosis. For example, if your mum was diagnosed at 40, mammogram, ultrasound and clinical examinations are encouraged to start at age 30." Ms Treloar said.

Jo said she would encourage women not to worry but to stay up to date with their screening as early detection is crucial.

"This is the best care. This is where you have the most experienced doctors that are seeing this every day. They've seen it all. They know what they're looking for. And that gives me a lot of confidence," she said.

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