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“Throughout the last five years pathology has been a big part of my life” – tests help Ros fight 2 types of cancer

Wodonga resident, 72-year-old Ros Clauson has learned the value of pathology as a nurse, a pathology collector and as a patient with two different types of cancer.

Ros began her healthcare career as a nurse, training at the Royal Melbourne Hospital 50 years ago and spent the last few years of her career working as a pathology collector before retiring at Christmas last year.

Ros was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. She was called back for further examination after an abnormal breast screen and then underwent a fine needle aspiration biopsy and a lumpectomy. This confirmed she had breast cancer that was spreading to her lymph nodes.

Doctors treated Ros using chemotherapy and radiation therapy during which pathology was vital to guide treatment.

Blood tests every three weeks tracked her health during chemotherapy as drug doses must be carefully monitored for side effects.

“Pathology was fantastic” said Ros. “Without it, the doctors would be pouring quite toxic drugs into me without knowing what was going on!”

Although now in remission for her breast cancer, she was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL) about a year ago.

A blood test showed abnormal red and white blood cell counts. Further blood tests and a bone marrow biopsy confirmed that Ros had CLL. Luckily the disease was caught in its infancy. She has no symptoms and at the moment she does not require treatment.

Doctors use the results of frequent blood tests and annual bone marrow biopsies to monitor her and assess disease progression.

“Throughout the last five years pathology has been a big part of my life, with regular blood tests as well as the bone marrow biopsy and lymph node biopsy I’ve been no stranger to the pathology team!”