HORSHAM breast cancer survivor Mary-Anne 'Daisy' Horgan has encouraged Wimmera women to make their health a priority after discovering breast screening rates have dropped in the region.
Ms Horgan said Horsham's BreastScreen Victoria clinic had reported a fall in participation during the past few months, with many appointment slots unfilled.
"I was shocked when I heard that," she said.
"The earlier you pick up breast cancer, the better your chances."
Ms Horgan, 52, was diagnosed with breast cancer last year after putting off a reminder letter to book a breast screen.
"It took me six months to book an appointment, because I was too busy worrying about everyone else," she said.
"Being diagnosed with breast cancer really puts life into perspective. I was always putting things off, but it really is so important to look after your health."
Ms Horgan's treatment included a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
She continued working as an administration officer at Wimmera Eye Care while completing chemotherapy.
As a result of her breast cancer journey, Ms Horgan has urged women to have a breast screen every two years.
"I hear all these women say it hurts, but it didn't for me," she said.
"It really is nothing for those of us who have given birth - come on girls, it's not that bad, it's all over in 10 minutes.''
BreastScreen Victoria encourages women aged 50 to 69 to screen because they are most likely to benefit from the program.
Ms Horgan said regular screening mammograms were the best way to find breast cancer early, before any symptoms were noticed and when treatment was likely to be most successful.
"We can't afford to put our heads in the sand when it comes to our health, and that goes for anything to do with our health, not just our breasts," she said.
"Don't delay, make an appointment. I would hate to think about the predicament I might have been in if I'd left it any longer. Your health is your most important priority."
The latest BreastScreen Victoria participation rate report card for Lowan shows 59 per cent of female residents aged between 50 and 69 took advantage of the free service in 2011-13.
The figure is lower than the BreastScreen Australia target of 70 per cent.
Member for Lowan Hugh Delahunty encouraged Wimmera women to make a booking.
"I am concerned to hear that women are not taking advantage of the BreastScreen clinic in Horsham," he said.
"I not only urge women to have regular breast screens but I call on men to also encourage their wives, mothers, sisters, aunts to take advantage of this life-saving program."
He said people could call 13 20 50 or visit breastscreen.org.au to make an appointment.