By Breast Cancer Network Australia - www.bcna.org.au
Sixty is the average age of women diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia. This may come as a surprise because so many media stories on breast cancer focus on the experiences of younger women, such as Belinda Emmett, Jane McGrath and Kylie Minogue. In fact, women under fifty are in the minority when it comes to breast cancer diagnoses.
We know that, as well as being a woman, increasing age is one of the greatest risk factors for developing breast cancer. With our ageing population, more Australian women will experience breast cancer as part of growing older.
In fact, statistics show that one in nine Australian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Every year 14,000 Australian women are diagnosed with breast cancer and just over half of all new breast cancer diagnosis are in women between 50 and 69 years of age.
The good news is that survival rates are very good, and the majority of women go on to live long and fulfilling lives following their breast cancer diagnosis.
Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) is the peak national organisation for Australians personally affected by breast cancer.
BCNA is connected with over 67,000 Australians around the country through our Beacon magazine, where women share stories of their and their families experience with breast cancer, practical tips that helped them through, with a strong focus on the positive elements of their journey with breast cancer.
BCNA works to ensure that women diagnosed with breast cancer, and their families, receive the very best information, treatment, care and support possible. While BCNA provides information to women, they also hear from women with breast cancer about the issues affecting them.
Maxine Morand, BCNA CEO and breast cancer survivor, said BCNA is always listening to its members on issues that are important to them.
“Through our events, online forum and various programs including our review and survey group, BCNA receives feedback from our members on the issues that follow a breast cancer diagnosis,” Maxine explained.
“For example, we often hear from women that they are unprepared for the financial costs of breast cancer.
There can be high out-of-pocket expenses even for women who have comprehensive private health insurance.
Other issues raised include a lack of support for women’s emotional wellbeing, and that of their families. Women living in rural and regional areas often tell us about additional challenges facing them.”
Last year, BCNA developed a special resource on sexual wellbeing after breast cancer in response to feedback from members, including many older women, that the issue was often overlooked by health professionals.
Maxine Morand said BCNA knows from speaking to members that women with breast cancer want access to advice and information that is reliable and easy to understand.
“We know that women want more information, whether it be advice on how to talk to family and friends about breast cancer or information on how to take out travel insurance after breast cancer,’ she said.
“BCNA has developed a wide range of free resources for women, from information kits through to an online network where women can swap information and support each other on their journey.”
BCNA provides practical support to women with breast cancer through the My Journey Kit, a free, comprehensive information resource developed by women for women who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer.
It contains useful and practical information and tips, and directs women to many services and support networks they may need on their journey.
BCNA also produces the My Care Kit, which includes a free post-surgery Berlei bra for women who have recently had breast cancer surgery; and Hope & Hurdles, an information resource for women with secondary breast cancer (where a woman’s breast cancer has spread to other parts of her body).
BCNA members also receive a free quarterly magazine called The Beacon which includes information on research, treatment, support options, events and personal stories from women affected by breast cancer.
For more information, to sign up to receive the Beacon, or to make a donation to support the work of Breast Cancer Network Australia visit www.bcna.org.au or call (freecall) 1800 500 258.