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Testimonial: Jane Doyle's story

Throughout Breast Cancer Awareness Month, BreastScreen SA is sharing the stories of South Australian women personally affected by breast cancer to raise awareness of the importance of breast screening.


"People think you need to have a lump before you do something, but I had zero symptoms," she said.

Jane reveals her recent diagnosis of breast cancer, but credits early detection with saving her life.

Now she hopes that sharing her own experience will encourage South Australian women over 50 to get regular screenings. "Every woman in SA gets a letter from BreastScreen SA when they're over 50 saying 'You're now eligible for a free breast scan'," Doyle said.

"I got my letter in August and like a lot of women, l just said 'Oh, I'll get to that' and, like a lot of women, I hadn't got to it. l hadn't made the appointment"

It was only by chance that Doyle followed up on the letter, almost five weeks after it arrived in the post. "I was in the city, I had time to kill and thought I would go do some shopping but there is one of the BreastScreen SA clinics at the bottom of David Jones, so I thought rather than go and spend money, I'll pop in and see if they could fit me in anyway," she said.

"I went in and said 'Look, I'm sorry, I've got my letter it's at home, but I don't have an appointment - is there anything you can do today?' They told me to come back in 15 minutes and they would squeeze me in. "I didn't think another thing about it because I've done about five of them now. I actually forgot about it and then l got a phone call saying there was an anomaly." That anomaly meant Doyle was needed to go back for a more intensive scan.

The subsequent tests revealed the news. Doyle was diagnosed with an early form of breast cancer known as a ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS).

"There was no lump which is an important message. People think you need to have a lump before you do something, but I had zero symptoms. Neither my GP nor the breast surgeon could feel anything."

Doyle had a partial mastectomy on October 11 2017 and started radiotherapy shortly after meaning that every day for the past three weeks she's been having treatment in the morning, then showing up for work and reading the news in the afternoon. Doyle's experience is consistent with that of a lot of SA women. Statistics show that one in ten SA women will be diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 75 and nine out of 10 women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease.

Doyle hopes that by sharing her story, more women will be vigilant in using the free BreastScreen SA services. "Only 60 per cent of women eligible for the screening take it up, which means there are 40 per cent of women out there who aren't using this service which is completely free," she said.

"I have had one really good friend tell me that she's a year overdue for her scan, and when I asked her why she said 'Well, the last time I got called back and I got so anxious and upset in advance of that'. "Of course, when I asked her what happened next, she told me that it was all clear, but she got herself into such a state that she was too afraid to go back to the next one.

"I said to her 'Don't you think about what might happen if you put it off too long, and then the next time you do have the courage to go, they say you have stage three invasive breast cancer and you're facing a double-mastectomy and chemotherapy?'"

"What I am trying to say to SA women is ... you hear a lot of negatives about the public health system…but what if you don't go and you have something like I had, which is undetectable by any other means, and you wait because you are too lazy or frightened," Doyle said. "It takes a maximum of an hour, if you're in the city. They have locations all around the state, they have mobile clinics.

"Women really need to put themselves first when it comes to this and take advantage of this free, world-class, service. You don't have to pay a thing, there's no gap. It is such a brilliant service that I don't think women are taking enough advantage of."

Doyle will continue to have yearly mammograms instead of every two years. She's now looking forward to celebrating the future. In January 2018 [after her treatment], Doyle went on her planned trip to Uganda, where she went trekking for a week with son Henry, and a month later she turned 60.

''I'm very lucky with my cancer experience. It hasn't threatened my life - it's potentially saved my life," she said.

Book your breast screen appointment today

To book an appointment call 13 20 50 or make a booking here BreastScreen SA.

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