National | Breast Cancer

Breast cancer survivor thought she was going to die

A breast cancer survivor is concerned about delays in surgery since the coronavirus pandemic hit Aotearoa, which has left more than 60% of women on the waiting list feeling vulnerable.

Elizabeth Morgan of Ngāti Porou says, “It might sound dramatic but I thought I was going to die. So the things that you do in your life and the time and energy that you spend your time on are more critical.”

Morgan says a well-breastfed baby assures the health status of the child later in life. “It's a special bond that you only know when you’re feeding your tamaiti. So in regards to that, the one I had chemotherapy for, no milk came, it was just the one.”

Breastfeeding was an experience Elizabeth thought she might never have experienced if it hadn't been for the early detection of breast cancer.


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National screening data

National Screening Unit data shows the New Zealand health system has failed to reach its 70% breast screening target, meaning many women may have undetected breast cancer. The pandemic backlog also means some women are waiting for longer on the surgery list.

Morgan is a survivor of cancer that kills some women but she says with self-examination and surgery within 31 days of diagnosis a woman's life can be saved.

Morgan was in her 20's when she was diagnosed and now she wants to share some simple advice for women currently awaiting results or preparing for surgery.

Morgan says, “You have to really think about things and make a plan because at the time we didn’t know what the outcome was going to be.”

Since being diagnosed with breast cancer she supports many breast cancer awareness events. She says her motto now is to live life to the fullest. Earlier this year her partner proposed and they are now planning a date to get married.