Inspiring Women Middle Age

Let’s Talk About Breasts!

September 22, 2015

tracey spicer, let's talk about breasts, breast cancer awareness month

‘Let’s Talk About Breasts’  is the name of the documentary launched yesterday by highly regarded journalist and media personality Tracey Spicer ahead of Breast Cancer Awareness Month to help combat the surprising level of complacency that exists among Australian women when it comes to detection fundamentals (self-checks, regular screening and diagnostic mammography exams).

Tracey Spicer is a busy woman!  Like most women, she juggles many things in her day-to-day life.  In Tracey’s case, she juggles being a wife and mother with her journalism and media commitments, her involvement with a diverse group of charities and a passion for women’s rights, social justice and equal opportunity.   In amongst, all this busy juggling, she let one thing slip – it had been 7 years since her last breast check!

Let’s Talk About Breasts documentary with Tracey Spicer and her friends, follows Tracey on a very personal quest through her own detection experience and showcases a group of her closest friends sharing their deepest fears, hopes and encounters with the disease. 

tracey spicer, breast cancer awareness month, let's talk about breasts

tracey spicer, breast cancer awareness month, let's talk about breasts

let's talk about breasts, breast cancer awareness,

tracey spicer, breast cancer awareness month, let's talk about breasts

I spoke with Tracey and asked her about the documentary and its key messages.

Min:   What was it that drove you to embark on making this documentary?

Tracey:  Well I’m 48 and I know that sometimes younger women are diagnosed – like women in their 20’s and 30’s but I think it’s like anything and when it starts happening to friends that were around the same age as me there was an epiphany of Oh My God, I’m not doing enough to get myself checked out and that’s when I started doing a bit of an investigation into the fact that there are screening programs for women over 50 but if you’re under 50, because you’ve got dense breast tissue it can be really hard to pick up the cancer.  So I wanted to look at that a little bit further.

Min:  What do you think are the main reasons why complacency is so prevalent with Australian women?

Tracey:  I think there are probably two main reasons for the complacency. One is the fact that women are so busy – especially with work, family, non paid commitments, caring commitments whether it’s older relatives or parents/grandparents – that we always seem to put ourselves last.  There seems to be this misconception in the community that because women talk, that we talk about our deepest darkest fears and our health issues all the time and sure we talk but we don’t often think about what is happening in our own bodies until it’s too late.  So that’s one thing.  The other thing is that with our kind of Anglo-saxon heritage in this country we’re all a bit uncomfortable talking about death and terminal illness so when it comes to something like the BIG C – Cancer we don’t want to even consider that it might happen to us.   I know women who have found lumps and haven’t gone to check them out until months later because they’re frightened of what the answer might be. 

Min jumping in again:  I’ve noticed that many women are put off having a mammogram due to the fear of a mammogram being painful.  I’ve had them and while they are a bit uncomfortable, I don’t find them painful at all!

Back to Tracey now:  Oh, I’m so glad you said that because that’s a really good third point!  When I sent an email to some of my friends telling them I was going to be doing this breast cancer doco – do you want to come, we’ll have a dinner, we’ll have some drinks and we’ll talk about it!  The first thing they all said when I told them I was going to be having a mammogram on camera, was “oh better you than me love”!   You know, people think that it’s going to be really painful but the procedure has improved enormously over the years and though it is a little uncomfortable, it is by no means painful!

Min:  Traditional mammograms used for testing are 2D but in the documentary we’re informed that there is newer 3D mammography technology that is recommended for those women at higher risk.  It’s reported that these 3D mammograms can better detect cancer than its 2D cousin, particularly for women with dense breast tissue. 

Do you think that with this knowledge, women will come to distrust the results of 2D mammograms and there might be a strong call for the 3D mammograms to be rolled out as the traditional technology used? 

Tracey:  That’s a great question. I don’t know what’s going to happen but you’re right because as soon as I told my friends about these 3D mammograms they were like well that’s obviously going to detect more cancers and that’s what been borne out in the research and certainly they’re not available as prolifically as 2D mammograms around Australia but I’m sure there will be an increase in requests for them, especially amongst women in their 40’s who have got the dense breast tissue and if you have a 2D mammogram it often doesn’t pick up the lumps because it’s not as detailed and layer by layer as the 3D mammogram so that could very well happen!

Min:  Can you explain how a woman can determine if she is at high risk of breast cancer?

Tracey:  Yes I can.  The important thing is to look into your family history and see whether there’s been anyone who’s had breast or ovarian cancer.  They’re the main two risk factors.  Your risk factor is increased dramatically and exponentially if that’s the case.  Another risk factor is having dense breast tissue – usually women in their 40’s.  Also if you’ve noticed any breast changes, lumps, or nipple discharge!

Min:  You’ve partnered with *Pink Hope and **Hologic.  Can you explain how that came about and how the amount of views and shares of your documentary video will aid in monetary contributions to the charity work of Pink Hope?

Tracey:  Yes, it’s all been an incredible collaboration actually!  With the Pink Hope aspect, I’ve known Krystal Barter for a long time.  She’s lives on the northern beaches up here and we’ve both been associated with the Eagles Angels which is women supporting our local rugby league team.   She’s talked to me a lot about the BRCA gene which is so prevalent in her family – that’s why she had a preventative double mastectomy.   Because I’ve got a lot of cancer in my family, one of the cancer’s in my family that’s quite profound is pancreatic cancer and that’s affected by the BRCA gene as well so we’ve spoken a lot about genetic relation to cancer.  So when we were going to launch this documentary I kind of ran into her and she said we’re launching on the same week, how about we come together on this, and that’s how it came about.  So $1 for every view or share of this documentary on YouTube will go to her Pink Hope Foundation which I think is really powerful.

Hologic has been involved with the production of this documentary in relation to our production team – just to make sure that we get all our facts right because there’s so much in relation to medical technology with this documentary.  I didn’t want to stuff up any of the information so they’re there to make sure we’ve got everything absolutely right with the TGA and all the medical terms are appropriate so we’re giving really robust advice to women!

Min:  Thank you Tracey for your time.  Is there any other message you would like to send out to the readers?

Tracey:  Absolutely, well first of all thank you so much Min for doing this story and my advice to women is:  The time for complacency is over!  Know your risks! Do your research and talk to your doctor!

+++++

Tracey’s documentary can be viewed below.
It is 24 minutes of MUST WATCH for all women! 

LET’S TALK ABOUT BREASTS

Hologic will donate $1 for the first 10,000 views and shares of the Let’s Talk About Breasts documentary to the breast cancer prevention charity Pink HopePlease watch and share!

Here’s where you can see the documentary trailer and the full documentary directly on YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnIKN8xbSATKbZInIZHvfPw

Find out how to proactively manage your breast health at any age!  One of the key fundamentals for early detection is self-examination.  Many women don’t have the confidence to conduct a self-examination with surety and so don’t bother.  Information about breast cancer detection methods is available at www.breastdetection.com.

Pink Hope:  Friday 25 September is Pink Hope’s Bright Pink Lipstick Day – get involved and share a conversation about your own family health history. Krystal Barter, Founder of Pink Hope says: “We are really proud to partner with one of our long-term supporters, Tracey Spicer and our new friends at Hologic.  The Let’s Talk About Breasts documentary is a powerful opportunity to get women and their families talking about breast cancer risk. We are thrilled to receive $1 for every watch and share of the documentary. This invaluable contribution to Pink Hope will go towards our Assess Your Risk tool to ensure families at high risk can empower themselves to make the best choices to manage their health.”

About Genius 3D Mammography exams:  Traditional 2D mammograms provide doctors with a 2D image to evaluate the breast. This can be limiting due to overlapping layers of tissue, which can sometimes produce unclear results, false alarms, or worse – cancer being missed.  For a woman having a Genius 3D Mammography exam, the experience is very similar to a traditional 2D mammogram.  However it works differently by delivering a series of detailed breast images, allowing doctors to better evaluate the breast layer by layer.  Doctors are able to test for breast cancer with significantly more accuracy – regardless of a woman’s age or breast density.  For more information visit genius3D.com.au or genius3Dmammography.com.

If you are interested in facts and figures you might like to take a look at this:  Breast Cancer and Mammography in Australia – The Facts

tracey spicer, breast cancer awareness month, let's talk about breasts
Cheers to women taking control of their health!  Spread the word!  SHARE this documentary video!  SHARE this post!  Start the conversation and use this hashtag: #letstalkaboutbreasts

Ciao for now,

Min-Signature

* Pink Hope is a preventative health charity working to ensure that every individual can assess, manage and reduce their risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
** Hologic Inc. is a leading developer, manufacturer and supplier of premium diagnostic products, medical imaging systems and surgical products. The Company’s core business units focus on diagnostics, breast health, GYN surgical, and skeletal health. With a unified suite of technologies and a robust research and development program, Hologic is dedicated to The Science of Sure.

Linking up with Essentially Jess for #IBOT

and joining Maxabella lovesLife, Love and Hiccups and A Quirky Bird for #WeekendRewind

 

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  • Amy@ Handbagmafia September 22, 2015 at 7:16 am

    What a fantastic idea on Tracey’s part, to keep us aware. Will be watching this later. Thanks Min 🙂

    • Min September 22, 2015 at 10:36 am

      I agree Amy! Tracey has not only started the conversation but she provides so much important information – eg the risks of women under 50 who might have dense breast tissue, the 2D vs 3D mammograms and all the fab info provided at this site: http://www.breastdetection.com/

  • Kylie Boyes September 22, 2015 at 7:17 am

    Love love love this article Min. My complacency is over. I will definitely be booking in for a mammogram.

    • Min September 22, 2015 at 10:36 am

      So pleased you like it Kylie. Thank you for commenting and I’m glad your complacency is over! 🙂 xo

  • Kathy September 22, 2015 at 7:37 am

    Good on you for doing the interview and publicising breast cancer awareness Min (and good on Tracey for having the mammogram on camera)! I will bookmark to watch the doco.

    • Min September 22, 2015 at 10:38 am

      I don’t think I’ll be getting any calls from 60 Minutes any day soon Kathy LOL but it was an honour to speak with and interview Tracey. Do go back and watch the doco – it’s fabulous and contains really important information. 🙂

  • Natalie @ our parallel connection September 22, 2015 at 7:42 am

    What a beautiful idea. Haven’t watched the doco yet but will settle in after work and watch it

    • Min September 22, 2015 at 10:39 am

      Tracey’s so inspiring isn’t she with all that she does. Make sure you go back and watch the doco – it’s great and full of such important info! 🙂

  • Jodi Gibson (JFGibsonWriter) September 22, 2015 at 7:48 am

    So great to have this awareness out there. I regularly self-examine, and coming into my 40’s next year I will head off for my first mammogram. Having lost my mother at a young age (not to breast cancer), I would rather be too cautious than not enough.

    • Min September 22, 2015 at 10:41 am

      I must admit that I don’t self-examine (will have to change that). I do have a mammogram every 2 years though through Breast Screen. I’m so sorry Jodi to hear that you lost your mother at a young age. I think you can never be too cautious! x

  • Janet aka Middle Aged Mama September 22, 2015 at 9:41 am

    I’m just wondering, with Tracey not having had a breast check for 7 years – was that doing her own self-examinations each month, or going for a mammogram? As she’s only 48 (same as me) I’m guessing she wouldn’t have been for a mammogram before? I try to remember to do a regular self-exam, but it’s harder these days as it’s recommended to do it after your period and well, after a hysterectomy, I don’t have them anymore!

    Visiting today from #teamIBOT x

    • Min September 22, 2015 at 10:43 am

      I think she hadn’t self-examined OR had a mammogram over the 7 years but from what I understand she had a mammogram 7 years prior where she had a false positive requiring a biopsy. All turned out to be OK but it gave her a scare.

  • Karin @ Calm to Conniption September 22, 2015 at 9:47 am

    It is amazing to think that the complacency is still there as breast cancer is one of the most publicised of cancers. But when I think about it is a very long time between self examinations on my part. Will watch this a little later on. Thanks for sharing Min.

    • Min September 22, 2015 at 10:45 am

      It is amazing to think complacency is still a problem isn’t it? I think FEAR is the biggest explanation – of them finding something, of the mammogram hurting etc. You’ll enjoy the doco – it’s well done and loaded with important info. 🙂

  • Pinky Poinker September 22, 2015 at 10:03 am

    My neighbour told me she doesn’t have mammograms because she knows two ladies who found a lump eight months after having a mammogram and that she doesn’t think they work. I know how thorough the doctors were at my last mammogram when they found a small anomaly (which turned out to be nothing thank God). I think a lot of women are frightened to have them and use any excuse. The doco sounds very interesting.

    • Min September 22, 2015 at 10:48 am

      Oh dear – I think your neighbour’s friends might be under 50 and have dense breast tissue and would probably have benefitted from having 3D mammograms rather than the traditional 2D. This is one of the main things I’ve learnt from speaking with Tracey and watching her documentary. I have 2 yearly mammograms with Breast Screen and they have always been very thorough. The doco is great – hope you watch and enjoy! 🙂

  • Deborah September 22, 2015 at 11:57 am

    I’m actually very overdue for a breast screen and haven’t bothered with a follow up since I moved, but I really must organise one. I keep getting reminder letters from Qld Health so have no excuse!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Min September 22, 2015 at 10:03 pm

      Do it Deb! I think I must be due for one of those letters soon’ish! 😉

  • Raychael aka Mystery Case September 23, 2015 at 7:58 am

    Great post. I’m overdue for my annual mammogram and as we have a family history it is not really something I should be putting off.

    • Min September 23, 2015 at 1:52 pm

      Thanks Raychael! Hope you book that mammogram!

  • Beck @craftypjmum September 23, 2015 at 10:24 am

    I think its great Tracey has started the conversation for many women, I am one of those women who have put off my breast exam and I know that I shouldn’t as my family has an awful rate with breast cancer. Thank you for sharing this Min, I wont be putting off my exam any longer. x

    • Min September 23, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      Yes job well done by Tracey. I do hope you book that mammogram Beck! x

  • Rhonda Chapman September 23, 2015 at 11:05 am

    I love this post, well done.

    Isn’t it amazing? With social media it’s much easier today to get the word out. Will share the link to help prompt others to book a mammogram.

    • Min September 23, 2015 at 1:56 pm

      Thanks so much Rhonda! It sure is amazing how we all can have a voice with social media today. Thank you for sharing the link. It’s such an important topic!

  • Jules @ Toddlers plus teens September 24, 2015 at 10:51 am

    Fantastic article Min ! It is something we always tend to put off as women . Always caring for family etc . X

    • Min September 25, 2015 at 4:56 pm

      Thanks so much Jules! Yes us women do have a tendency to put everyone else first before ourselves. This is a fantastic doco by Tracey to remind women to not be complacent! xo

  • Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid September 24, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    Such an important message, Min and a great interview!

    • Min September 25, 2015 at 4:56 pm

      Thanks so much Sammie! 🙂 xo

  • Jody at Six Little Hearts September 25, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    Great job! I am notorious for ignoring my own health so I must have a breast check as soon as my breastfeeding is over. Great to know about the advances in the technology. X

    • Min September 26, 2015 at 8:51 am

      Thanks Jody – yes do have a breast check! x

  • Maxabella September 25, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    Yes, let’s keep talking about breasts and all the other body parts that get attacked by vicious cancer. A dear friend of mine has just discovered she has anal cancer and it’s just the WORST and so not talked about. Poor darling. x

    • Min September 26, 2015 at 8:52 am

      So sorry about your friend Bron. I too have found out about a friend with breast cancer only in the last couple of days. It’s so unfair and terribly upsetting! xo

  • Sonia Life Love Hiccups September 27, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    I am going for my very first mammogram soon Min and I am as nervous as all hell. It is so important to have those checks though and to spread the message. Great post hun xx

    • Min September 29, 2015 at 8:14 am

      Thanks Sonia! I’m so pleased to hear you’re booked in. Don’t be nervous. I’m sure you will be fine. We can’t let fear stop us from looking after ourselves 😉 xo