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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Early diagnosis ‘lucky’ for Canberra cancer survivor

“They said that they had detected a DCIS in the right breast, which is a cancer in the milk duct … So that day, your whole world is turned upside down, of course, with emotions and ‘what if’.”

“[It was] an emotional rollercoaster. I think not just for me as the patient but for your family as well. It’s ‘what can we expect?’ ‘What can we do for you?’

“I think until you get the results… it is a waiting game.”

Canberra woman Janet Olsen says she is “lucky” that the cancer in her right breast was detected early on, and contained.

“[I had surgery] within about a month of the diagnosis, and thankfully because of the early detection, everything came back okay … I believe I am lucky that I didn’t have any radiation or chemo, and I didn’t have to take any medication,” she says.

Ms Olsen, 56, has just passed her two-year “diagnosis anniversary”, and says she is now a huge advocate for people to get regular breast screenings.

“We’ve got the staff, we have all the medical equipment, and they’re improving things all the time … It’s only 15 minutes, if that, every two years. If it’s going to cause a little bit of discomfort, just for that 15 minutes, it’s worth it.

“I just think it’s so important. I think women should be encouraged to go and have a mammogram. Someone said to me when I first was diagnosed ‘I can’t do anything for you’. And I said ‘yes you can, go and get yourself checked’.”

Since her diagnosis and receiving the ‘all-clear’ from her doctors, Janet has retired and joined Dragons Abreast, a dragon boating group that encourages breast cancer survivors to transition back into active lives through dragon boating.

“It’s an incredible bunch of women; we paddle about three times a week … [It’s] absolutely important, because not everybody has the family support that some of us are fortunate enough to have, to be able to just talk to somebody, to be able to just have someone to relate what you’re going through.”

Janet and the Dragons Abreast team will be out on the lake on Mother’s Day, Sunday 12 May, cheering on the participants (runners and walkers) in the annual Mother’s Day Classic, which raises funds for breast cancer research projects across the country.

The 2019 Mother’s Day Classic will be held on Sunday 12 May from 7am at Rond Terrace, Lake Burley Griffin. For the timetable, registrations and donation information, visit mothersdayclassic.com.au

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