I was first diagnosed with ER+ breast cancer in 2009 at age 50 – a devastating diagnosis for an active, healthy, divorced mother of two.
I had one daughter completing her HSC and another at uni. I was determined to maintain a brave face throughout my surgery and treatment. I put my wig and makeup on, drove myself to chemo and radiotherapy and kept up with all my social engagements. I then returned to work in a wig when it was all over. Many people didn’t even know I was having treatment or had been sick. Others just thought I was coping extremely well.
The hardest thing for me was getting out of bed in the morning and driving my daughter to school. Often I would just put on a turban and a sloppy joe over my pyjamas and hope I would not have an accident or a breakdown on the way. The saddest part was then climbing back into bed and having no one to make me a cup of tea and toast. I would often cry myself to sleep at night wishing I had a partner to cuddle into and tell me it was going to be all right.
The second time I was diagnosed was in 2011. It was triple negative breast cancer. My daughters were both adults now, so I decided that I would not only accept all offers of help, but I would also share my tears and fears. I wasn’t afraid to show off my bald head either, and I gratefully accepted meals and lifts to chemotherapy. I joined different support groups and I contributed to BCNA’s online network.
My newly reconstructed breasts are still there for the world to see! I celebrate every October, as that’s the month my final treatment ended.