20 minutes every 2 years can save a life
When Clinical Nurse Consultant Helen Golightly offered to take one of her chronically ill clients to a BreastScreen appointment in 2011, she didn't realise it would ultimately change her own life.
"The first time I had a mammogram I actually went with a patient as part of our program. I said to her if she got screened, then I would as well", Helen said.
"It only took 20 minutes and wasn't painful at all".
"Nothing was detected, and I was scheduled for my second routine mammogram two years later."
"Then in 2013 I took part in a marathon walk in London to raise money for breast cancer research. I felt a little unusual afterwards and wasn't recovering as quickly as I had hoped so I decided to move my second mammogram forward."
"After that second appointment I was diagnosed with an aggressive type of breast cancer", Helen said.
"I was shocked because there was no history of breast cancer in my family and I'm one of four girls."
"I'm fortunate that the cancer was in its early stages and they started treatment straight away".
Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in NSW. 1 in 7 in will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
But Karen Richa, Health Promotion Officer for BreastScreen NSW, said only half of the women in Sydney Local Health District have a regular mammogram.
"The best time to treat breast cancer is when it is still very small, which is why we remind women to have regular screening appointments. 20 minutes every 2 years can save your life. BreastScreen finds the cancers you can't feel, the ones that go unnoticed".
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and Helen Golightly says she is keen to share her story if it encourages more women to have a mammogram.
Helen is also able to draw on her own experience to promote the benefits of regular screening in her Clinical Nurse Consultant role with the Aboriginal Chronic and Complex Care Program - funded by the Central and Eastern Sydney Primary Health Network.
"I feel very privileged to work with our Aboriginal community and to be able to help connect them to health and hospital services" Helen said.
To find out more - or to book an appointment - contact BreastScreen NSW on 13 20 50.