"I never thought I would get cancer. When I was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2013 I was shocked. I didn’t think I was sick. I felt fine. I remember even asking the doctor to print off the pathology results because I thought it was a mistake. My first thought in that moment was my family and how my three young children would react.
My husband and I agreed that we would hold off telling the kids because we didn’t want to upset or scare them until we knew what we were dealing with. It was so hard hiding my emotions. I would cry for hours when I was alone.
When hospital visits became part of my weekly routine the kids could sense something was wrong. Telling my kids was a relief for me and also for them. My two eldest boys seemed stronger, more mature and wanted to help me in their own special ways. My oncologist and my friends and family were an amazing emotional support system.
When it came to the facts and medical terms it was all very confusing. My oncologist encouraged me to contact Cancer Council. I wanted to know the real statistics about my cancer. You only scare yourself by googling. Knowing that Cancer Council have the knowledge and the facts was reassuring. I felt better about the whole process. I knew I had a reliable source of information that I could trust. I felt supported.
I spoke to a cancer nurse through Cancer Council’s 13 11 20 support service line, who was able to guide me through some of the tricky questions I had. That phone call helped me begin to come to terms with my diagnosis and answered the practical questions I had about my treatment.
My cancer treatment involved having surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. I’ve always been someone who loved wearing makeup and doing my hair, but my normally lush hair became thin. Losing my hair was tough. I hated looking at myself in the mirror. Cancer Council enrolled me in the Look Good Feel Better course. I thought I already knew it all, but it was so much more than a basic makeup tutorial. They show you things like how to fill thinning eyebrows and eyelashes, and how to wear headbands and wigs.
After six months of chemotherapy and radiation, my treatment was complete. I decided I had to give back to Cancer Council in some way, that’s why I got involved in Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea as a host. My first morning tea was a relaxed event at home. We raised almost $3000. Then, in 2015, I organised a morning on a large scale at my children’s school with some of the other parents. We turned it into a real community event as we had a few parents affected by cancer in our school community.
I’m now in remission and doing well. I’m excited for the future. In particular, being able to watch my kids grow up and be happy – it’s what every parent wants.
I’m hosting an Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea again this year to give back to the community that supported me when I needed them the most. I am thankful each and every day that I am able to tell my story, and give back by supporting those going through these life changing events."