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Breast Screening

I’ve been unwell the past few days, lots of pain, most likely due to relapse of the GORD thing. But today I was well enough to venture outdoors …

And so I rode into town to have my first, free screening mammogram. Breast Screen NT are in town for a few more weeks before they retreat back to the wilds of Darwin for many months. The women of Alice Springs and surrounding desert communities can only access this vital screening program for breast cancer a mere twice a year. At least each visit is for a block of 6 weeks. Not sure if that 6 weeks includes the assessment clinic for those women who require further testing. I think it does though, that’d be right. Not quite enough funds in the Territory to worry about the Centralians too much.

Still, it’s a good service and best of all it is free. On the advice of my doctor I’ve just entered the screening program at age 47. My tits survived the flattening process. Mind you, that squishing the breast sideways between two high pressured plates thing? My, didn’t that bit hurt! I thought my nipples were going to pop off. Only lasts a few seconds and my cute little breasts seem to have recovered nicely with no signs of trauma. 🙂

The results? Well, if I lived in the other territory (ACT) or any of the other states of Australia, I’d be receiving my results within 2 weeks (with South Australia sending theirs out within 10 days! Go SA!). But this is the Northern Territory and, as is oft heard up here, things are different in the Territory. Our results take up to 6 weeks. The NT has no qualified radiographer to read the mammograms (so I was told by the staff today) and therefore the xrays are sent down to Perth in WA. Hence the delay.

What was nice to see was the organised groups of Aboriginal women who’d been brought in to town for their own mammograms. The three indigenous ladies waiting when I was at the clinic were treated with great respect and dignity. Whilst there is much negativity about Aboriginal lifestyles in the NT and much cynicism amongst the locals regarding the various government programs designed to assist these people, it is heartening to witness some real goodness happening. Top marks to the community health people and Breast Screen NT.

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