Nell Rowarth: Don't delay your mammograms

Following her usual free mammogram in January 2012, Nell Rowarth was given the all clear. However, a note accompanied her results which read “check in one year to be safe.”

A year later Nell received a reminder notice for another mammogram and, as a full-time teacher aide, waited until the school holidays in May to make the appointment.

This time things went differently. Following the mammogram and then a biopsy Nell, then aged 59, was diagnosed with breast cancer.

She didn’t hesitate when it came to her treatment. She immediately had the recommended lumpectomy and this was followed by chemotherapy and radiation.

The experience has prompted the Papamoa woman to speak out in support of Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition (BCAC).

Nell received a copy of BCAC’s Step by Step support pack when she was diagnosed and she says the information helped her to understand everything that was happening.

She now wants other women to know that they shouldn’t put off getting their mammograms and breast checks.

“My grandchildren lost their other grandmother to breast cancer so I knew I didn’t want that to happen again. You need to make time for your mammograms and if you find a lump or anything unusual get advice immediately – it may be nothing, but if it is then the earlier it is treated the better.

“And don’t imagine the worst. The care and advice I received following my breast cancer diagnosis was wonderful. Women need to know that there are some very experienced and supportive people out there doing everything they can to help you through something like this.”