EDITORIAL: Michelle was the one in eight - don't you be next

Michelle James

Michelle James

Recently released statistics about breast cancer in Australia are frightening.

Imagine this - you're in a room with eight of your girlfriends.

The likelihood is that one of your friends, maybe yourself, will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

In 2019, it is estimated that 19,535 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in Australia (164 males and 19,371 females).

Figures from the Cancer Institute NSW show that in Hunter New England, more than 730 women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year alone.

BreastScreen NSW reports that more than one in eight women in NSW will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime but almost half of women aged 50 to 74 are not getting their recommended biennial mammograms.

Chief Cancer Officer and CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW, Professor David Currow said that about 60 per cent of breast cancers are diagnosed in women aged 50-74, which is why screening is so important for women in this age group.

Tragically Lovedale woman Michelle James (pictured) falls into this category and was the one in eight. She told Australian Community Media her story to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

This tenacious and career driven 58-year-old had to put her life on hold earlier this year after a lump she discovered in her breast was an aggressive and life threatening tumour.

No shrinking violet, Michelle agreed to take part in the Chariot Breast Cancer Trials that will investigate if using immunotherapy drugs together with standard chemotherapy is safe and effective in treating breast cancer before surgery, and if continuing immunotherapy after surgery keeps the immune system active.

Today, the mum and grandmother is kicking goals. Her six centimetre tumour now measures one centimetre and she is determined to kick her cancer to the kerb.

In the meantime she is participating in the trials which could well help save the lives of other men and women diagnosed with this insidious disease.

But despite spreading the word about the trials' positive outcomes, Michelle is quick to point out that regular self examination and mammograms can result in early detection and could be life saving.

To Michelle and the team at Chariot Breast Cancer Trials we say thank you.