October 19, 2020

Breast cancer doesn’t stop for COVID-19

Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting Australian women. Cheryl Murray, Breast Care Nurse Consultant, urges the community to continue to get screened, even in a pandemic.

“The key message is self-detection is still key. Book in to get your breast screen, because they are open and they have precautions in place.”

“Be ‘breast aware’ and if you have changes in your breasts, please book an appointment with your GP,” Cheryl said.

Being ‘breast aware’ means becoming familiar with the normal look and feel of your breasts and reporting any unusual breast changes to your doctor as soon as possible, as early detection can boost your chances of survival.

Statistics show that the five-year relative survival rate for women diagnosed with breast cancer is 90.8 per cent. The number of people being diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia is increasing; however the number of deaths from breast cancer is decreasing.

One of Cheryl’s patients, Robyn, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in June this year, said that even though it can be overwhelming during a pandemic, it’s important to put your health first.

“Please go and get checked – don’t let COVID-19 scare you. You need to put your health at the forefront, no matter what the circumstances are.”

“It felt quite overwhelming coming into hospital, not having a support person with you, seeing everyone masked up and not being able to have that face-to-face interaction but everybody I have dealt with through this time has been absolutely amazing. Nothing has dropped with the care – you still get the support and reassurance as you go through each stage of treatments,” Robyn said.

Cheryl explains how COVID-19 has impacted patients receiving treatment for breast cancer.

“COVID-19 has changed the way we deliver our service, and the major change for our outpatient appointments was moving the service into Telehealth.”

“Some patients are happy to use Telehealth, but others feel more secure when they have their appointment face to face,” Cheryl said.

“Patients may feel vulnerable already when battling cancer or worried about reoccurrence, add in COVID-19 and it has definitely increased feelings of vulnerability and isolation,” Cheryl explained.

“Patients undergoing treatment for cancer, patients being diagnosed with cancer during COVID-19, or cancer survivors having routine imaging and follow ups – they have all been impacted by COVID-19. I want to remind the community that Northern Health is open for business and we are here to care for you.”

For those living with breast cancer during the pandemic, The Breast Cancer Network of Australia say:

“Our message to those living with breast cancer – please continue your follow up care and reach out for help. You are not alone.”

For more information, please click here.

Featured Image: Cheryl Murray, Breast Care Nurse Consultant