ORAL STATEMENT GIVEN BY DEBBIE SHORT

TO HEALTH SELECT COMMITTEE 25.2.04

I'm here today as another step in my journey and to plead for women from the age of 40 years. I am here today with my husband Tim and my three daughters, Rebecca, Jacinda and Louisa who have all shared this journey with me. My children have been with me and shared the trauma at diagnosis, grieved with me in the pain of surgery, shared the distress through chemotherapy - with their mother's physical change with complete hair loss, suffered with me on the days of nausea from the harsh chemicals, and shared the distress of tiredness through radiotherapy.

All this needn't have been the case. Had I had a mammogram at 40 years and the cancer picked up early, the need for such harsh, traumatic treatments would not have been necessary. And the uncertainty of my future also would be more promising.

But I'm not here today to talk about my situation. My situation, which is repeated hundreds of times because women from 40 years in New Zealand are not having access to free mammography screening from 40. We're here today to present the compounding evidence for breast screening from 40 years.

By not screening from 40, it's about understanding the trauma of a loss like Marie Roigard who passed away less than two years ago at the age of 45 years because the cancer had spread throughout her body. Screening from 45 years wouldn't have helped Marie, nor would it have helped myself being diagnosed at 44 years with 8 tumours and spread.


ORAL STATEMENT GIVEN BY TIM SHORT

TO HEALTH SELECT COMMITTEE 25.2.04

Debbie's the amazing inspiration, and I'm the Pot Stirrer! It's not an overstatement to say it's been physically and emotionally exhausting to get to this point.

We welcome the announcement of 2 days ago, but the critical age is from 40 - it's not some nice numeric number. The curve of diagnosis drops off sharply below 40, but the difference between - yes - 40 - 44 and 45 - 49, is only 3%! Our Petition of 124,000 signatures calling for screening 40 - 70 years really did count and who says Petitions don't work!

So what's this from 40 business about? Well:

It's about preservation - life. It's about preserving the family.

It's about putting investment into preserving the economic contributors in an aging society.

It's about recognising that the peak age of high grade tumours in women is in the 40's.

It's about understanding that in a younger woman, the tumour is much more likely to dedifferentiate i.e. change in form very quickly, very aggressively and spread.

It's about the high cost of treating high grade tumours to the country and to the family.

It's about preserving the opportunity to maximise life years.

It's about recognising that at 44 years Debbie already had advanced Breast Cancer with 8 malignant tumours with spread to her lymph nodes and chest wall.

It's about giving women like Debbie a better chance through screening from the critical age of 40 years.

It's about the children and loved ones they leave behind.

It's about evidence - 20yr study involving 210,000 women showed screening 40 - 49 yrs reduced mortality 45% (UK Medical Journal the Lancet 26th April 2003)

 

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