Strong Family History

My mum had breast cancer for 5 years, and lost her battle in 1987. She was diagnosed age 40. I was determined that I would use healthcare to minimize my own risk. In collaboration with my GP I had my first screen when I was thirty, which I maintained for 2-3 years. I missed a few years, then covid, and was rescreened in June 2022 through Breastscreen SA. I am appreciate and thankful for this service, and being able to access screening early.

My first diagnosis of early breast cancer was in June 2022. My surgeon could not feel a lump. I did not feel a lump. My cancer was esostrogen sensitive, and aggressive. If I had not followed through with this I could have been in all sorts of trouble. I was able to have surgery within a week to remove the cancer.

I have gone the private system for treatment simply as I am able to access both surgery and treatment quicker, though I do understand there is a timeframe for accessing appointments in a 'timely manner' in the public system, I am not sure how this is determined. Luckily when I ended up in hospital I was able to access both specialists in hospital as well. However being place on a hospital ward of mixed physical, mental health and aged and dementing consumers was not helpful in my recovery at this point. No issues with the staff or registrars or consultants though communication in complex matters where multiple specialist departments are involved could be improved.

As a young person undergoing cancer treatment, I am very limited in what support I can access. The nature of my treatment means I am unable to drive to or from treatment, so am dependent on friends (the first week of chemo I had an allergic reaction to the treatment I require so have additional drugs to ensure I am able to be treated). Nearly all friends work, so are unable to assist in a practical sense, and am unable to access alternative options ie red cross (for over 65).

I am grateful that I can access genetic testing to determine further treatment and/or surgery in the future, but don't believe that the current education and health promotion is provided anywhere near enough. Knowing what information is required for this assumes there is a known medical history that goes back 4-5 generations, and this often isn't the case, particularly in lower socio-economic families and communities let alone broader cultural groups.

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