"The memory is still so fresh in my mind, but it was back in September 2014 that I found a lump in one of my breasts. As with many other people, I had known something was wrong but had been putting off going to the doctor for a few months. When I finally did go, things moved very quickly and within a week I experienced my first ever mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy. It was at this time that I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, my heart sank, but the good news was that the cancer had been caught early and the within two weeks I had my first operation.
Being diagnosed with breast cancer was so unexpected and I just went with the advice l was given l figured my head would catch up with what was happening with my body later. What was amazing was that everyone rallied around me and showered me with support. Before that I had no idea of the full extent of how loved I was and was amazed at the care that came from so many different people.
After two surgeries, I was told that I needed to have a mastectomy and preventative chemotherapy. So, my focus was getting better as quickly as possible. I was desperate to start chemo, the sooner it started the sooner it was over! My lowest day was after the mastectomy surgery, looking at myself in the mirror and seeing my scar was almost impossible, I felt horrible. But, I am positive and my optimistic outlook kicked in. I said to myself “you’re going to be ok”.
A few days after my operation I was able to get out of bed and go for a walk in the ward with my husband, Paul. I remember him telling me how proud he was of me. Before I got cancer, my life seemed so huge but in that moment, everything contracted.
I was overwhelmed with how supportive everyone at work was, for example my line manager constantly called to check in on me. It was lovely to know that people genuinely cared how I was doing. My colleagues got together to send my husband and I on two weekends away so that we could rest and relax. That meant a lot to both of us and we really appreciated the thoughtful gesture. They also printed out notes of support on bright pink paper – all of the messages were so important to me.
I missed work and chatting to my friends, being at home all day got very boring so I went back to work as soon as I could. I knew it was going to be tough so I accepted lots of support such as workplace counselling and I listened to my colleagues when they said I was looking tired and should go home. I added yoga into my morning routine and I didn’t miss a session, I loved the positive effect it had on me.
Even though I had lost my hair, I am still a woman and naturally wanted to feel beautiful. I discovered some amazing online headscarf tutorials and began to teach myself how to wear them. After I mastered how to tie headscarfs, women would comment on how good they looked so at work I would help lots of women in the fitting rooms tie their headscarves, one women even bought her mother who has cancer into the store so that I could teach her!
I am so grateful for all the support I received through my journey and I now celebrate everything. I learnt many lessons as a result of having cancer, some that are close to my heart but the most important is to enjoy life and live it to the fullest! I feel so lucky that I am okay and it puts losing a boob into perspective.
This year I’m excited to attend my first Biggest Morning Tea!"