In November 2021, after a particularly busy year full of fundraisers I had organised, I raced off to my screening appointment at the Wesley hospital. I had insisted on an annual screening instead of their 2 yearly recommended checkup and it was actually only 11 months since my last mammogram. I thought that would always protect me.
Well it didn’t, and as I was happily thinking when they called me back in quickly after the screening that I could make my next meeting, I realised that the news was something quite different. There was a tumour in my left breast and after more tests and biopsies they found a second one. Two days later I met with my wonderful breast surgeon and after more tests, she recommended an immediate mastectomy followed by chemotherapy. I was diagnosed with invasive ductal triple negative breast cancer.
Somehow, I proceeded through that treatment without fear and actually didn’t shed a tear for months (although the river did start flowing one day, don’t you worry!) Quite a weird reaction from a big cryer! But I think it was my determination to focus on getting the job done and to do everything I could to help make it work.
My beautiful husband, children and grandchildren and extended family were there every step of the way, giving me so much strength with a massive amount of love and support. So many of my amazing friends supported me quietly and so many people I barely knew, showed such kindness, it was humbling.
Following my completion of the treatment, I elected to have a second prophylactic mastectomy followed by reconstruction which all went well and I now am the proud owner of 2 very perky breasts!
In February 2023 after developing pain in my left side after travelling, I had a PET scan which revealed I was cancer free! The joy was immeasurable and I will forever be grateful for all the love in my life.
I am now healthier than I have ever been and still run off every day to do something that is good for me – yoga, walking, hyperbaric chambers, infrared saunas, lymphatic drainage massages, reiki sessions and daily I meditate and take a whole range of supplements and eat well. My skin glows, my hair and nails are stronger than ever as is my body. I try not to allow stress to overtake my life like it did previously. And I am forever grateful for all the wonderful goodness in my life. Through it all, I have become the person I always wanted to be.
I guess I could have done that via an easier road though!
I am so proud of my beautiful daughter Stephanie for making a difference by designing such beautiful wearable pieces and I know through my fundraising for Chicks in Pink, that the funds raised will help much needed research. The journey still has a long way to go and too many women are still being diagnosed daily. If I had waited for the recommended 2 year screening, I most probably would not have survived as it was such an aggressive cancer.
So, no matter what they say, have an annual check.