BCNAMY BREAST CANCER JOURNEY

We chatted with the brave women affected by breast cancer and the strong breasties who have their backs!

We’ve been so lucky to have met many of the inspirational Aussies supported by Breast Cancer Network Australia over our 19 years of friendship. Hear how BCNA has helped these brave women through their breast cancer journeys.

 

Emma’s Story

I had a call back letter from BreastScreen in October 2014.  The week before The Melbourne Cup Carnival – a time for parties with a public holiday thrown in for good measure. The appointment was for 10am Thursday October 30, 2014 and the letter said that in 9 out of 10 cases it was nothing. It was only a flippant mention in my office that led to me actually taking my breasties to the appointment.

Liza and Jo are my younger sisters and they supported me through my breast cancer journey from day one. Liza dropped everything and took me to the appointment. When the ultrasound operator said it didn’t look good and that I would need to return for the results, we gathered our stuff and stumbled our way blindly out of there. Liza didn’t leave my side throughout the entire process, she was with me physically or checking in on me every single day.

“Each of these girls did so much throughout my journey, my breasties were a constant, positive, loving, emotional and physical support and I couldn’t have done it without them.”

When I went to see my breast surgeon, my three oldest friends Kate, Al and Brigitte were waiting in a bar around the corner, having a wine to calm their nerves. The doctor gave me the diagnosis then and there, so we walked around the corner to find the three of them waiting on tenterhooks.  It was a surreal and pretty emotional moment for all of us.

Nina’s Story

My name is Nina and I’ve just turned 46. On September 1, 2016 whilst showering, I found an unusual lump on the side of my right breast, which I decided to get checked out that day. Within 24 hours, I had my GP send me for an ultrasound and mammogram, which confirmed that I had a malignant tumour. First call in the car park after the GP was to my hubby, then my sister. My sister came up straight away to hold my hand for a biopsy which they did that afternoon. Lucky for me it was stage one and had not spread to the lymph nodes. I was in hospital having a lumpectomy within a week and started radiotherapy a month later.

“Hearing stories of breast cancer is not all doom and gloom – it makes you reassess things in your life.”

The experience has showed me my inner strength and most importantly, how much love I have around me. My sister, my mum, my husband and dear friends rallied to help with the most basic of daily chores and without them, my mental health would have been a lot different. It has changed me but for most part, it has been for the better.

Lindsey’s Story

My name is Lindsey and I’m a 45 year old. Getting a cancer diagnosis is life changing. It can stop you in your tracks and halt time. In January 2018, I was  diagnosed with breast cancer. From diagnosis to now, my breast friends have never left my side. It’s been over 14 months now with many twists and turns, but they have never skipped a beat. I’ve had chemotherapy and lost every hair on my body, radiation therapy on the right breast and armpit, a skin graft and eight breast surgeries, including a bilateral mastectomy. The stream of support has been endless. I’ve been spoilt at many lunches, had pedicures, had a meal plan put together in and around surgeries and always have babysitters available. They’ve also taken me to appointments and kept me laughing the whole way. My breast friends always touched base with my husband and my children too, knowing the ripple effect that cancer can create.

“I’ve been dealt a bad card, but as long as I have cards, I’m still in the game – a game I intend to win!”

Breast Cancer Network Australia has been a place where I can tap into support easily. I used the website and read my way through the infinite amount of evidence-based information. It’s a wonderful way to help ease anxiety in and around the topic of breast cancer and is a place to visit on the ‘scary’ days. I was given a positive diagnosis of breast cancer.

Cat’s Story

My name is Cat and I was surprised to be diagnosed with breast cancer when I was just 38. I underwent a skin-sparing, nipple sacrificing mastectomy with automatic reconstruction three weeks later. My breast friend is the youngest of my three sisters, Julie. Throughout my cancer diagnosis, operation and recovery, she’s been by my side. She has laughed, cried, prayed and watched late night TV with me! I love her and I really couldn’t have done this without her love and help.

“My diagnosis has obviously impacted my life, but it sure as heck hasn’t all been negative.”

I’ve been overwhelmed by the love and support that it has brought from friends and family. I’ve also marvelled at the human body – what it can withstand and how it can heal. I’ve learned new, long words which will hopefully benefit me come trivia night! Breast cancer truly sucks, but my life still contains laughter, strength and joy.

Kate’s Story

My name is Kate. I live in Melbourne, have been married for 20 years, have four children, and in December 2017 when I was 51, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

My mother had breast cancer when she was 51. In 2012, my sister-in-law was diagnosed with a brain tumour and in 2013 my younger sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a lot of treatment and they thought they’d got it all, but a year later her cancer had spread. She passed away at the age of 47. At the end of 2016, my sister’s two children came to live with us.

The moment I received the letter from BreastScreen asking me to come back to check something they’d found, I knew it would be cancer. Not for a moment did I entertain any hope that it wouldn’t be. I had another mammogram, an ultrasound and then a painful biopsy followed by a week of unbearable waiting. My tumour was so deep inside my breast that no one could feel it. If I hadn’t had a mammogram, my cancer would have been so much worse by the time it had made itself known. When I was diagnosed, I had no out of body experience, no tears, no state of shock. Just massive overwhelming anger that my family had to go through this again. And horror filled me at the thought of telling my niece and nephew that I had the disease that had killed their mother. Doing that was the single worst moment of my life.

My friends were incredible – food was delivered, the dogs were walked, wine was poured, homework was assisted, the balcony swept, washing up done, music practice supervised and so much more. My oldest friends organised a cleaner, my BFF flew in from Perth to accompany me to vital appointments when my husband was away, while my other BFF took me on little walks after chemo.

“A cancer diagnosis is very isolating, but I have never felt as loved as I was when having chemotherapy.”

The other thing that helped beyond all compare was the BCNA Online Forum. That’s where I connected with fellow breast cancer patients, found answers to a myriad of questions and found company at all times of the day or night. It was and continues to be, the most amazing support group.