DUNCRAIG mother Regina Chambers wants to help other women avoid some of the stress she experienced after being diagnosed with a lesser-known type of breast cancer.
In May last year, Mrs Chambers learned she had ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which is breast cancer confined to breast ducts and not invasive.
Her mother died of breast cancer when she was 42 and following tests, she was recommended to have a bilateral mastectomy.
Mrs Chambers said despite her family history and that if left, DCIS could turn into breast cancer, it was still a hard choice.
“It was an extremely difficult decision to make and I was a bumbling mess,” she said.
“Knowing what my mum went through and knowing my twin daughters were also at risk was constantly on my mind and I really wasn’t sure if I should go ahead right up until the day of surgery.
“Ultimately I was thinking of my children; my mum didn’t get to see me get married or meet my grandchildren so that was my driving force.”
Unfortunately, Mrs Chambers developed infections post-surgery and has undergone six surgeries in the past 18 months but still believes it was the right choice.
“It was just a bumpy road to get to the final destination,” she said.
After a suggestion by her surgeon and UWA School of Surgery deputy head Christobel Saunders, she took part in a research project last year designed to help other women diagnosed with DCIS.
Funded by Cancer Council WA and led by Professor Saunders, the project interviewed 35 women about their experience and will use the information to create a resource to help people with DCIS understand risks and make decisions about their treatment, with results expected to be published in the next six months.
Mrs Chambers said she saw the need for this after her diagnosis as there was nothing specifically about DCIS.
“I think it would have helped because in my case (the resource) was too severe, it was too much and it didn’t relate to me at all,” she said.
“I was also very happy to participate in the project because ultimately I’m keen to help make the decision making process easier for other women diagnosed with DCIS.”
While self-exams are important, she said DCIS could usually only be detected through mammograms and encouraged people to be vigilant.
“People just don’t know how to check for it and the only way is to get regular mammograms,” she said.
“I still feel vigilance is the best way.”