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Q and A with Shelly Horton

26 Sep 2017 by Krystal Barter

Don't be dense, be dense aware

We ask Shelly Horton some important questions for our “Don’t Be Dense. Be Dense Aware.”

How important is this campaign to you?

This campaign so close to my heart.  I thought I was fairly well informed when it came to knowing my breast cancer risks but in fact I was completely out of touch.  I had never heard of breast density, I didn’t know what a 3D mammogram was and why it’s so important.  It was like I had my head in the sand.  I hope this campaign helps other women learn from my mistakes and take charge of their breast health.

Tell us about your family’s experience with breast health?

I was a tad cocky because there is no history of breast cancer in my family.  Then in the last month, both my Mum and I found breast lumps.  Mine was benign.  But the doctors thought Mum’s was malignant.  I’ve never been so scared.  I flew up to Queensland to see the breast surgeon with Mum and Dad.  Luckily it was a false alarm and although it looked bad there was no cancer.  She still had surgery to remove it.  As the fabulous female breast surgeon said, “With nasty looking lumps like that, the only place for them in is the bin!”

What message do you want other women to take from this campaign?

Use the Pink Hope #knowyourrisk tool and educate yourself.  Take charge of your own health.  Don’t wait for something to go wrong.  Ask your doctor for a 3D mammogram so you know if you have dense breast tissue or not.  It could save your life.

Tell us about your mammogram?

It was only because of this campaign that I did a self exam and found a lump.  I have a history of lumpy boobs and no history of breast cancer in my family so I wasn’t too worried.  But then Mum’s scare changed everything.  I asked my doctor if I should be concerned and she booked me in for a 3D mammogram straight away.  Look, mammograms will never be my favourite thing to do.  They are uncomfortable, but it only lasts a few seconds.  I’d rather a bit of discomfort than the fear of not knowing. Thankfully my lump was nothing to be worried about and now I know I don’t have dense breasts.

Whats your best tip for becoming your own breast advocate?

Arm yourself with information because knowledge is power.  Gone are the days where one doctor’s opinion was the end of your health quest.  Ask for a second opinion.  Take charge.

Were you surprised or did you learn anything new from this experience? 

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit I hadn’t heard the term “dense breast tissue”.  I was surprised to learn that it’s just as important to know your breast density as it is to know your family history. I was also so impressed with the 3D mammogram technology and so grateful I got to see up-close how it all works and how it helps diagnosis.  I will no longer be blazè about my boobs.

I hope my experience will encourage other women to take charge of their breast health too.

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