BREAST CANCER: Don't put off getting your annual mammogram.
BREAST CANCER: Don't put off getting your annual mammogram. GlobalStock

Opinion: Older women need to remain vigilant

SALLY* is living a great life in retirement, volunteering for several community organisations and travelling whenever the budget and time permits.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in the left breast at 40, but has had a clean bill of health since then.

In late July Sally and her GP were discussing what medications were needed for a forthcoming holiday when Sally casually mentioned she had been experiencing for a few months a pain in her upper right side.

The 69-year-old also mentioned that her annual mammogram was due to be done in the next month, but with the departure date for the holiday imminent, she planned to wait until she was back home in another two months before getting the test.

The GP decided that a check of the pain area was still worth doing right then. That breast examination led to the GP referring Sally to the breast clinic for an immediate mammogram. The test results revealed something suspicious in the images.

A needle biopsy was done on the day and sent off for further examination. That result revealed an invasive ductal carcinoma and malignant tumour.

Within a week the breast surgeon was booked.

If Sally had decided to wait until she returned from her "trip of a lifetime" holiday, the fast growing cancer could have spread further.

She has now had a right breast mastectomy and is going through three months of chemotherapy and 12 months of Herceptin.

The Galapagos trip is on hold for now, but Sally says she is ready to rebook it for a future year.

* Name has been changed.