Arabic-speaking BreastScreen Victoria client Wafaa Razooqi recently sat down with Harmony Alliance as part of their Healthy Horizons series about reaching migrant and refugee women with relevant and accessible healthcare information.
Wafaa tells her personal story of being screened and diagnosed with breast cancer through the BreastScreen Victoria program.
Read what Wafaa had to say about her experience below.
Would you tell us about yourself and your experience of breast screening?
My name is Wafaa. I came to Australia in 2018 and, after one year, went and screened with BreastScreen Victoria in 2019 at Broadmeadows. Following the appointment, I received a letter and call saying I needed to come back for further tests.
When I came back for my assessment appointment, I had a doctor and nurse counsellor there to help me and talk to me slowly because I was nervous. I was told we need to do another mammogram because they found something in my left breast. After that, I was told I needed to do an ultrasound. BreastScreen organised an interpreter for me who was very good to support me. I also called my son to come and support me. During my appointment, I had an ultrasound and a biopsy, and two lumps were found. The bigger one was cancer.
I came back again after four days with the doctor, and they explained that I needed surgery. I had a trip booked overseas and was told I needed to cancel my travel plans because it’s important, and the priority now is the surgery. Two days after the surgery, I received the result, and they said it’s very early stage and nothing dangerous. Then I started radiotherapy.
Did you have a lot of support from your family and your community?
My family supports me. I have two sons here living with me with their wives and children. I’m supported by many friends here in Australia.
How do you tell other people about how important it is to be screened for breast cancer?
I encourage every woman from 50 years up to make time for a mammogram, check her body, and check her breasts because this is important for women. It’s so easy.
Have you heard stories from other people who say they are scared or unsure if they should go or think it might hurt? And what would you say to people who haven’t gone to get screened?
The same thing happened to a friend. She had a mammogram, and they found something in her breast. And I told her she should get it looked after, and I would go with her. I took her to get another mammogram, and she is fine and happy now.
Has COVID-19 impacted your breast screening?
In 2020 during COVID-19, I had my mammogram, and they called me and said I have something in my breast and want to do another biopsy, which was scary. The result was normal.
Is there any other advice or words of encouragement that you would give to women, especially migrant and refugee women living in Australia who are maybe unsure of what they should do next?
Yes, I encourage them to check all of their body, not only for breast cancer. I really want to help them and encourage them. After the experience, I feel very positive, and I like to get out and visit different places and look after myself.
At BreastScreen Victoria, we want to make sure there are no barriers between culturally and linguistically diverse communities and getting a breast screen. To help the broadest range of eligible Victorians, we provide culturally appropriate services accessible to people from diverse backgrounds, including translated resources, interpreter services and group bookings.