Push for regular cancer tests

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Berwick’s Debbie Brettoner had been enjoying a beach holiday in Byron Bay a couple of years ago when she noticed a lump in her left breast.

She had only just had a mammogram and would not have been due for a check-up for another two years.

After a series of tests, Debbie was told that while the lump itself was benign, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I couldn’t quite understand that as I thought if the lump was benign then how could I have breast cancer?” she said.

“My doctor explained that my cancer was in the cells and that normally no symptoms are presented. If I hadn’t had a lump present itself, I wouldn’t have had another test for probably a couple of years, and I probably wouldn’t be here now.

“I was very fortunate and the nurses at Cabrini were calling me the chosen one. They kept saying how lucky I was and how I’m meant to be here for a reason.”

Debbie’s journey has motivated her to raise awareness among women in the community that breast cancer may not necessarily pose symptoms.

She decided that it was worth raising as much awareness as possible if that may mean saving a life and preventing a family from going through the frightening ordeal of a cancer diagnosis once it’s too late.

Debbie will hold two fund-raisers a year, sharing her story in the hope that those who attend will tell their sisters, mothers, aunties and friends that regular tests can save lives.

“My first fund-raiser last October definitely had a great outcome, raising $2000 at a breakfast and receiving a call a week later from someone saying that they convinced their mother to go and have a mammogram and was diagnosed early,” she said.

“Wow. What a great feeling that was.

“My goal is for people to spread the word that it is possible to have a positive outcome from a cancer diagnosis. It doesn’t need to be a death sentence.”

Debbie held her first event of the year to coincide with the Weekend To End Women’s Cancers last month, which raised almost $3500.

The afternoon tea and auction fund-raiser at Shanikas supported Jacki Starow and Pam Silvarich who went on to raise an additional $3865 from their Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre charity walk.

Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.

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About Alana Mitchelson

Alana Mitchelson is a journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow her on Twitter at @AlanaMitchelson.

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