Overcoming the first-time fear of breast screening

BreastScreen Victoria invites women to get their first screen from age 50. When Irene received her invitation, she put off making the appointment.

“I think I was in denial that I was old enough to have a breast screen,” Irene said. “And I wasn’t sure how much it would hurt. Was it going to feel like someone’s punched me in the chest?”

Irene fought her fears and had her first breast screen.

“It was about thinking, okay, I can be brave. Millions of women do it, so I can do it,” she said.

She arrived at Sunbury BreastScreen for her appointment a little frazzled and anxious, but those feelings didn’t last long.

“The radiographer immediately put me at ease. She was brilliant, with the most stunning personality. She explained everything that was going to happen, which is good because it makes you feel less nervous.

“Afterwards, I thought, ‘Oh, was that it?’ It didn’t take any time at all. The machinery was amazing! You have this old-fashioned view of a mammogram where you’re standing in front of two cold metal plates that squish you. This new technology is sophisticated and gentle.

“Looking back, I can’t believe I was so fussed about something so straightforward. But I think your mind plays tricks on you. I took half a day off work because I was worried about how I would feel in the afternoon, but you could get it done on your lunch break.”

Irene now shares her experience to encourage others to screen. She was one of our ‘Make Your Screen Debut’ ambassadors.