Jean, Radiographer, Townsville

Has been with BreastScreen Queensland 10 years

Jean, Radiographer

Every day I meet people who have reached higher, fallen lower and walked taller than I ever have or could. To serve these wonderful people in a way that saves lives is the most precious gift I can share.

Listening to the stories that clients tell me about themselves, their friends or family and how their lives have been touched and forever changed by breast cancer is a great privilege. The laughter, tears and hugs shared with so many people across the country is very humbling.

Being the heart and soul of a family is a demanding and incredibly important role. The best way to care for those you love is to look after your own health. Please, for their sakes, look after yourselves! Take a moment to consider how much time you would have for those you love if you allow your own health to take second place.

An extract from my Collinsville Talk…

“Since my speciality is the mobile van and remote areas, I’d like to give you a bit of insight into my life.

Queensland has 11 static clinics. Each clinic has either mobile, relocatable or satellite clinics which reach out into the country communities.

My van is called Lilly Pilly!

We travel together from Bowen and Collinsville in the South and as far north as Innisfail and include Palm and Maggie Islands during the first year of the two year cycle.

The second year we travel West to Mt Isa stopping at Cloncurry, Julia Creek, Richmond, Hughenden, Pentland and Charters Towers. We travel a thousand km to reach our clients and many of them travel a thousand km to come to us. For them, having a mammogram can be a 3 day journey!

I can be on the road for up to 8 to 11 months of the year – A life style that can play havoc on one’s private life without a strong and understanding partner at one’s side!

So why – why give up so much for a job?

Let me end with a true story from my recent trip out west.

Six years ago, I was asked to see a client who had come for a mammogram and was petrified. It took me at least an hour to talk this lovely lady through her fears. Many times I placed her breast on the board only to have her pull back at the last moment. She faced her fears and had a mammogram. Having a mammogram did not stop her from getting breast cancer.

Still terrified and often calling me in tears, she faced the surgeons and chemotherapy. Having a mammogram didn’t stop these terrifying events. Nor did it save her the mental anguish of separation from her elderly husband. She had months of rehabilitation to get her life back on track again. Having a mammogram didn’t stop any of that.

A few months ago, I wandered though a school fete in a small country town not unlike Collinsville. Piles of used books were stacked on the tables and there was the tantalizing smell of home baked cooking. To one side was a collection of plants laid out in a horseshoe shape for luck.

That was when I saw her - my special lady! She jumped up and down, crying and laughing as she danced me cross the school yard to the amused stares and smiles of the local community. “You saved my life – You saved my life” she repeated over and over again as she held me close.

My friends, I didn’t save her life, but the mammogram did. That mammogram saved her life. There is someone in every town I go to who can say “That’s me, that’s my story!” And so, we keep moving on – Lilly and I – looking for the next life that will be changed forever by breast cancer – and live to say “This is me! This is my story!”

And that, my friends, is my story.”

Last reviewed 1 September 2020 Last updated 1 September 2020

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