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Podcast: Why early detection of Breast Cancer is vital, with Laura Matrljan


This October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and local mum Laura Matrljan has an important message for all women. Laura was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of just 31 years old. She was a regular mum to two young boys, aged 2 and 4 years old, and found an unusual lump during a routine breast check. She shares her story and her important message to all women.

Every day, 57 Australians are diagnosed with breast cancer. It is the most common cancer for Australian women (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer). The good news is that survival rates continue to improve in Australia, with 89% of women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer now surviving five or more years beyond diagnosis.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and we want to get women talking about breast cancer and, more importantly, checking their breasts or booking in for an examination or mammogram.

Early detection is vital. The sooner you find out you have breast cancer, the better your chance of survival.

    Laura shares her story…

    “I was diagnosed with breast cancer on 1 May 2015 and 20 days later, I was in surgery. I was 31 years old. Before my diagnosis, I was a regular mum of two active boys, 2 and 4 years old, doing regular mum things. I had a casual job, and looked after my family. I loved to cook, sew, and spend time with my friends having a wine and a giggle. Then, one day I was lying down in bed watching my iPad. I often checked my breasts (something my mother had drummed in to me from very early on) so I was very familiar with the look and feel of them. When I felt my breast that day, straight away I felt a small mass in my right breast. I had just finished my period and often found my breasts would get hard and sometimes lumpy during that time of the month, but this was different…” – Laura


    Laura Matrljan at 31 years

    Early detection of breast cancer is vital

    Finding breast cancer early provides the best chance of surviving the disease. Remember you don’t need to be an expert or use a special technique to check your breasts.

    Changes to look for include:

    • a new lump or lumpiness, especially if it’s only in one breast
    • a change in the size or shape of your breast
    • a change to the nipple, such as crusting, ulcer, redness or inversion
    • a nipple discharge that occurs without squeezing
    • a change in the skin of your breast such as redness or dimpling
    • an unusual pain that doesn’t go away.

    Most changes aren’t due to breast cancer but it’s important to see your doctor without delay if you notice any of these changes. More information.

    Know your lemons!

    How well do you know your lemons? There are 12 symptoms of breast cancer. Know Your Lemons is an award-winning app that helps women learn about each symptom, calculate your personal risk, get a custom screening plan, learn how to self-exam, and get reminders to stay abreast of your health. Download the app.

    How to check for breast cancer

    Do you know how to check your own breasts? Laura says: “This is a bit cheeky using man boobs to show how to self-examine. But I thought it was fun!”

    How to support a friend who has been diagnosed with breast cancer

    If you’ve got a friend who has been diagnosed, it can be difficult to know how to support them in a practical and comforting way. Laura recommends these three websites as a great starting point…

    • Take Them a Meal: When you’re undergoing chemotherapy or recovering from surgery, cooking a nourishing meal for your family just isn’t possible. One of the best gifts you can give is nightly meals for your friend! Take Them A Meal is a fabulous website that makes it easy for friends to group together and organise a meal roster.
    • Mummy’s Wish: Mummy’s Wish is dedicated to the provision of practical support that keeps families functioning during mums’ cancer treatment. They are the only Australian independent charity dedicated to providing practical support to mums who are diagnosed with cancer while their children are young (under 13). Laura says, “they organised a cleaner for me for three months. It made such a difference!”.
    • Em & Friends Greeting Cards: Laura says. “Amazing gift card company. They’re known for their empathy cards and I received a few during my treatment. The kind of card to give someone when you don’t know what to say.”

      Amazing support services for breast cancer

      McGrath Foundation

      McGrath Breast Care Nurses provide invaluable support and care to women and men experiencing breast cancer. From diagnosis right throughout treatment, McGrath Breast Care Nurses are available to help individuals and their families for free and with no referral.

      A breast cancer diagnosis changes your life, often in ways you wouldn’t expect. The impact can be felt right through your family and friends. As much as you try, the diagnosis, the treatment and the disease can take over your life.

      ‘My McGrath breast care nurse was invaluable to me during chemotherapy’ – Laura

      Cancer Council

      Cancer Council 13 11 20 is a free, confidential telephone information and support service run by Cancer Councils in each state and territory.

      Anyone can call Cancer Council 13 11 20 – cancer patients, people living with cancer, their families, carers and friends, teachers, students and healthcare professionals. Specially trained staff are available to answer your questions about cancer and offer emotional or practical support.

      Call 13 11 20 for help.

      Breast Cancer Network Australia

      Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) is Australia’s leading breast cancer consumer organisation. They work tirelessly to ensure that all Australians who are affected by breast cancer receive the very best care, treatment and support. Their website features hundreds of articles about different stages and types of breast cancer, and how to cope with the journey. 

      Listen to the interview with Laura

      Laura looks back 12 months after being diagnosed with breast cancer

      Listen to the episode of The Parenting Couch interview with Laura Matrljan on your favourite podcast platform.


      Listen to more Parenting Couch podcasts


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