Western Sydney cancer survivor says “don’t wait until you can feel a lump to have a breast screen”

Western Sydney lactation consultant and mum-of-three, Pamela Morgan, always thought she’d feel a lump in her breast if there was one there.

“I work with breasts for a living, so if anyone was going to be able to feel one, I thought it would be me,” she said.

The 62-year-old was thrown when she received a call following a routine mammogram at BreastScreen NSW’s Myer Penrith site that she needed to come in for a repeat scan but didn’t think there would be cause for concern.

The repeat mammogram unfortunately showed a one-centimetre lump on Pamela’s left breast, and she was sent to have a core biopsy that same day.

“I’d had breast cysts before, so I originally thought they’d just drain the cyst, and it wouldn’t be a big deal,” Pamela said.

“I was shocked when they found something of concern as I was completely asymptomatic.

“It was the longest wait of my life waiting a week for the results.”

Pamela was diagnosed with a grade one, slow growing breast cancer. Luckily for her, it was a type of cancer that responds well to treatment.

“I underwent a lumpectomy at Mount Druitt Hospital in June, under the care of Westmead Breast Cancer Institute’s (BCI) surgeon, Dr James French, and I’m currently waiting to start two weeks of radiotherapy,” she said.

Pamela Morgan

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women in NSW, with one in seven women diagnosed with breast cancer by age 85. Age and being female are the strongest risk factors and nine out of 10 women diagnosed do not have a family history.

In Pamela’s case, this is exactly her story, with her doctor citing her age, gender and having breasts as the reasons behind her cancer.

“I don’t smoke, drink, I’m not overweight, I haven’t taken hormone therapies and I breastfed my three kids; so I was technically low risk,” Pamela said.

“This is why mammograms are so important, as they pick up breast cancer you aren’t expecting to find.

“By the time you feel a lump, it will likely be over two centimetres, which means so much more in terms of treatment.

You don’t want to wait until you can feel a lump.”

Westmead BCI Service Director Associate Professor Nirmala Pathmanathan said: “A mammogram every two years takes just 20 minutes and it could save your life.”

“Pamela screened with no symptoms or concerns, which is a great reminder of the necessity for eligible women aged 50-74 to come forward for testing as well.

“If you’re behind on your screening because of COVID-19 or other life circumstances, this is your prompt to not delay another day.”

Westmead BCI manages the BreastScreen program in western Sydney and runs retail clinics out of Myer Penrith, Myer Parramatta and Myer Castle Hill; hospital clinics from Auburn Hospital, Mount Druitt Hospital and Blue Mountains Hospital and mobile vans visit various locations across the Hawkesbury, Springwood and Lithgow areas.

For the women of Blacktown LGA, a mobile service will be available at Blacktown City Council carpark in August.

To book a mammogram at the van or at a BreastScreen clinic, contact BreastScreen NSW on 13 20 50 or book online.