The conversation every woman should have with their daughters

Research by the McGrath Foundation has found that less than a quarter of all women surveyed had had a conversation with their mothers about their breast health. This Mothers’ day, they’re on a mission to start spreading moments that matter between women and their daughters.

Breasts can be a sensitive topic, but when it comes to self-examination, breast health and breast changes, it’s a conversation that shouldn’t be ignored. 

McGrath Breast Care Nurse Samantha Burns lost her mum to cancer when she was just six years old. As she prepares to become a parent for the first time herself, she’s urging women to make the most of the little moments they share with their own mums, to talk about things that matter. 

“I’m going to become a mum for the first time this year, and I hope that my son or daughter will be strong and courageous, and be open and have the really important conversations that matter,” she says.

This Mothers’ Day, the McGrath Foundation and Bupa are asking people to be bold, and to talk to their daughters about breast health, so they know how to self-examine, and which signs to look out for which could indicate breast cancer. 

“It’s really important for mums to sit down and have that conversation with their daughters. We look up to our mums; they’re the ones we trust, that provide us with guidance and the first ones who really influence us when we’re young,” she says.

You can find information about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, and tips for learning how to self-examine, here.  

Infograhic showing changes in breasts to check for

While she didn’t get many years with her mother, Samantha knows there’s no better person to educate and spread the breast health message, to younger generations.

“I think it’s really important because mums can help create that breast awareness, empowerment and connection with our bodies and with who we are.”

McGrath Foundation research found more women had had conversations with their mums about hair styles or table manners than about breast health, although menstruation was the most common topics discussed – suggesting that health and body changes were top of mind.

It also found that women whose own mothers had talked to them about breast health were more likely to pass on the knowledge to their daughters. Eight out of 10 mothers of teenage daughters who’d had a conversation with their mum about breast awareness went on to have a similar conversation with their children. 

Samantha’s experience with her own mother is what inspired her to become a McGrath Breast Care Nurse, helping to guide women through their own breast cancer journeys.

“I think that helped guide me to this career and allows me to be the nurse and the woman and the friend that I am today. I think I always wanted to go into oncology nursing and look after patients going through cancer, and to give back what the nurses did so wonderfully for our family; to give them the support and the care that was given to us.”

“My advice to people going through breast cancer: Be strong and courageous. Breast cancer does not define who you are. Allow the support and love of those around you to get you through.”

Up next: 

Self breast-check tips every woman should know 

10 things I wish I knew before being diagnosed with cancer  

Moments with mum: we're proud to support the McGrath Foundation this Mother's Day to encourage conversations that matter around breast health understanding. Learn more here
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