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Neonatal nurse shares cancer journey this Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Published:  07 October 2019

Townsville Hospital neonatal intensive care unit nurse unit manager Nicole Summers is used to spending long hours in a hospital; however, after being diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year, she suddenly found herself on an unfamiliar side of the hospital bed.

Nicole’s breast cancer diagnosis came after a routine mammogram picked up some abnormalities in April this year.

“After my screening I was recalled for a biopsy which tested positive for ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) breast cancer,” Nicole said.

“My mum passed away from breast cancer, so I’ve been having my free BreastScreen since I was 40 years old.”

Nicole said her experience made her a big advocate for regular screening.

“I had no other symptoms but because of my mum I was having the regular screening,” Nicole said.

“Thankfully, the cancer was picked up very early, meaning it was highly treatable.

“Being on the other side of patient care was a bit strange, but I’m lucky I had a really good recovery and all the doctors and nurses have been amazing every step of the way.”

Breast imaging director Elizabeth Phillips said with October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, women should take the opportunity to book in for their free, routine BreastScreen.

“We encourage women to check their breasts regularly for changes and if concerned see their GP,” Elizabeth said.

“BreastScreen Queensland Townsville staff are especially concerned that women over 50, who will benefit the most from a mammogram, are not attending our service.

“Finding breast cancer early provides the best chance of surviving the disease, and with free breast screening available for women over 40, there’s no good excuse not to get checked.”

Having now gotten through the worst of her cancer journey, Nicole said her message to other women was to make their health a priority and get the screening.

“I’ve been surprised at the number of women who are not being screened.” Nicole said.

“It’s a little bit uncomfortable but it’s worth it when it can save your life.”

Women 50 -74 years are encouraged to have a free breast screen every two years. Women in their forties and 75 years and over are also eligible. To book your free breast screen appointment simply phone 13 20 50 or to book online visit

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