Mackay BreastScreen Queensland radiographer Lizl De Kock never expected to be standing on the other side with a cancer diagnosis.
Her routine mammogram in April last year resulted in a diagnosis of invasive breast cancer and a mastectomy a month later.
“My tumour was too small to even feel, but fortunately the cancer had not spread to the lymph nodes so I have a good prognosis,” Lizl said.
As one of BreastScreen Mackay’s resident radiographers Lizl has performed countless mammograms on women in her community over the past 15 years.
Little did she realise when she had her regular two-year screen that she would be on the other side of the service.
“I was called back to the assessment clinic and told I needed to have a needle biopsy, and from that biopsy I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“A month later I had a mastectomy at Mackay Base Hospital. It just shows you cancer can happen to anybody, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do.
“All that matters is that if you are in the target age group for screening that you come in for your mammogram,” she said.
Lizl’s message during Queensland Women’s Week is to make time for a 10 minute mammogram that could save your life.
“As an immigrant from Africa, I can just say that everybody in this country should be very grateful for a free service like BreastScreen. This type of service does not exist where I come from in Africa.”
Lizl said her care from diagnosis to surgery and beyond had been supportive.
“You have a lot to do with the breast care nurses, they are really wonderful people who guide you and you can ask them lots of questions.”
Lizl said her own diagnosis had made her feel more compassion to women re-called to the assessment clinic.
“I can say I really understand their anxiety. They don’t know what the outcome will be and I fully understand that,” she said.
Lizl returned to work after two months’ leave, building up from part-time to full-time work.
“It’s not just a physical recovery, it is also psychological. You have to get your head around a cancer diagnosis and your treatment.
Women 50-74 encouraged to have a mammogram every two years. Women in their 40s and 75 and over are also eligible. No doctor’s referral needed.
Phone 13 20 50 or book online anytime at www.breastscreen.qld.gov.au