In May 2013, at age 38, I was diagnosed with locally advanced breast cancer, which had spread to the lymph nodes. The weeks to follow were surreal. I felt like life was carrying on around me, yet I was no longer a part of it.
I was fortunate to be referred to a wonderful multidisciplinary team of doctors and other health professionals who (cautiously) gave me hope. I was told that as the tumour was large, surgery was not an option unless they could reduce the size. While this was terrifying, the general attitude of the doctors was one of optimism.
One of the best things they did for me was to encourage me to think positively. I underwent six months of chemotherapy, followed by a mastectomy with full axillary clearance, radiation and Herceptin therapy.
I was lucky to be surrounded by a wonderful community who rallied behind me and my family (at the time my children were 6 and 3). There was a meal roster set up, the teachers at my son’s school made his lunches while I was having treatment, I had friends come to chemo sessions with me and someone even offered to clean my house for me!
The support of my friends, family and general community was such an enormous comfort.
It has been two and a half years since my treatment finished and I feel so grateful to be in remission. There are times that I am anxious about recurrence, but for the best part I do my best to remember how fortunate I am and focus on getting back into life.