A mammogram saved my life

Bronwyn Rogerson said she had done everything right to reduce the chances of getting cancer. She doesn’t smoke, rarely drinks and exercises regularly, so you could imagine her surprise when she was diagnosed with the big C four years ago.

The Tuakau resident went for her regular mammogram with her sisters. Her results to come back stating that she needed further investigation and a biopsy.

“I was then told that I had Grade Three Ductal Carcinoma In Situ, which are cancer cells located inside the milk ducts. I was just like, ‘you have to be kidding me?’ You don’t think it will happen to you, and the hardest part was telling my family and my sisters. Looking back, it is a lot harder for the people who love you, than yourself who is going through it.”

Bronwyn’s type of cancer was ‘shaped like a dumbbell,’ and it was almost impossible to try and find the lump located in her left breast.

“I was told that I would never have found it without a mammogram. We went through my treatment options. I chose to go through privately, as I had good medical cover, and to have my breast removed. I believed it was the best option for me.”

Six weeks after the operation, Bronwyn was told that while the lymph node biopsy came up clear, adjuvant chemotherapy was a suggested backup.

“I took it. I don’t know why people don’t take it as an option. It just isn’t worth the risk.”

After four rounds of chemotherapy, hair loss, and extreme exhaustion, Bronwyn was on her way to recovery. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing.

“You have no concept of just how tired you are. Just to open your eyes saps any energy you have. I have a very complex medical history with ulcerative colitis, and the oncologist was apprehensive about me having chemo. I ended up in hospital twice due to my medical problems. My oncologist wanted to stop the chemo but I was adamant that I could get through it and I did.”

In 2015, Bronwyn’s journey saw her become the face of New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation campaign to remind women that finding cancer early, through a mammogram, might mean the difference between relief and despair.

“There is no embarrassment in getting checked. If you don’t want to do it, ask your doctor to. You need to encourage all the women in your life that there is no shame to do everything you can to ensure your are checked. You can never be too early, but you can be too late.”

The month of May is the annual Pink Ribbon Breakfast month, which sees New Zealanders host a breakfast to raise funds for the Breast Cancer Foundation NZ.

Since her journey began, Bronwyn has been actively involved with the Pink Breakfast campaign.

“As I belong to a quiz team at Ed Street, they have supported me since I first announced my diagnoses. Our community is so generous, and it is a great way to give back for all the support that I have received from the Breast Cancer Foundation.”

For more information, or to register to host a Pink Ribbon Breakfast, visit www.pinkribbonbreakfast.co.nz