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Women's Health Week - Be Breast Aware

This year we are taking part in the Jean Hailes Women’s Health Week. It is a week dedicated to all women across Australia to make good health a priority.

"Women's Health Week is a nation-wide campaign of events and online activities – all centred on improving women's health and helping you to make healthier choices. Every September, for one week, Women’s Health Week is a reminder to set aside time for your health and wellbeing. Make an appointment for a health check, get active, join an event or simply connect with other women. You don't have to do it alone." - Jean Hailes

One of the most important female health checks is screening for breast cancer. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, it is estimated that 20, 428 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia in 2022 alone ( ). Breast cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia. These statistics highlight the need for all women to be "breast aware".

Getting to know how your breasts normally look and feel is an important step in protecting yourself from breast cancer. Knowing what’s normal for you makes it easier to spot any unusual changes if they occur. While nine out of 10 changes aren’t breast cancer, it’s important to be aware of them so you can have them investigated by your doctor as soon as possible

One of our First Base community members has spoken openly with us about her own journey with breast cancer. Carrie has been a member and friend since we began in 2016. Her strength and resilience is truly admirable. We asked Carrie some questions about her breast cancer journey in hope that her story will encourage our female community to take action and book their own health checks and become more breast aware.

Tell me a little bit about your journey. When were you diagnosed with breast cancer, and how did you find out?

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019. After experiencing pain in my right breast to the point of not being able to sleep I eventually went to the doctor to get it checked out. Thank goodness I did. After that first appointment, things moved quickly and I soon received the dreaded news. My world was turned upside down in an instant. I was only in my 30s, and had no family history of breast cancer so I couldn’t believe it was all happening. How did being diagnosed change the way you look at your health?

I’ve since had four surgeries including a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction, and it’s taking a long time to build my strength and fitness back. Having no feeling in my chest I’ve had to learn to reconnect with that area of my body so I can safely build strength. Exercise and yoga have been instrumental in supporting my recovery - physically, mentally, and emotionally. Through my experience, I’ve discovered just how positive, strong and capable I am! Final words for our community around women's health and being diligent with health checks If something doesn’t feel right - get it checked out! Avoid putting it off or talking yourself out of it. I’m so pleased I did as the cancer was found early and although it’s been a hell of a ride, I'm now cancer free and excited for the future.

For more information, check out the Jean Hailes breast health fact sheet below.

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