The friend I never expected

Tamara never thought she’d have fond memories of the chemo ward. As she went into the hospital for her last round of treatment, she looked forward to the day being over.

‘My oncologist was going away on a conference, so my appointment was changed from a Thursday to a Monday,’ she says.

‘I had no idea how fortunate this would turn out to be.’

Tamara’s breast cancer diagnosis came three weeks after her 42nd birthday, and not long after her move from Melbourne to Adelaide.

Being new to the city meant her local support network was small, but her partner Alicia was there with her every step of the way.

‘I felt so lucky to have such an amazing person by my side, who had my back the entire time,’ Tamara says.

Though many find it helpful to talk to someone who knows what it’s like to be diagnosed with breast cancer, Tamara was apprehensive about speaking with others going through treatment.

‘I had been a little reluctant to connect with other cancer patients, as I didn’t want to experience the roller-coaster of emotions of someone else’s journey when I was just trying to manage my own,’ she says.

‘But with Megan it was different.’

Living in regional South Australia with her husband and three young children, Megan was 41 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

‘It was by sheer coincidence that our paths crossed that Monday in the oncology unit when we were allocated chairs next to each other’ Megan says.

‘The connection was instant,’ Tamara says.

We spent the day chatting and laughing like friends who had known each other for years, not two people in the thick of chemotherapy who had never met.

Travelling 400 km for treatment in Adelaide, Megan was grateful to have her sister Rachel by her side.

However, just as a person diagnosed can find their breast cancer experience isolating, their carers can also feel alone. Megan and Tamara’s chance meeting allowed their supporters to connect with someone who understood what they were going through.

‘The bond between Alicia and Rachel is very special.

‘They are on this journey with us and have both found comfort in sharing their stories as carers,’ says Tamara.

As Megan’s chemotherapy continued, she happened to see the Pink Lady Match at the MCG on television one Sunday afternoon.

‘I was feeling emotionally fragile at the time, and drew strength from the pre-game events and interviews,’ she says.

‘Seeing all those people affected by breast cancer gave me even more motivation to power though my treatment.’

When she received The Beacon shortly after her treatment finished, Megan read about the plans for a Field of Women in 2018.

‘I immediately knew I wanted to participate in this event and contacted Tamara,’ she says.

Megan and Tamara rallied their support crews, who will stand by their sides on the MCG. The two families will travel from South Australia to Melbourne to be there as the shape of BCNA’s Pink Lady is formed on the ground.

‘To stand together with our families as cancer survivors, and now friends, will be an incredibly special moment for us all,’ says Tamara.

‘I hope that by participating in this amazing event it might give hope to someone watching at home, like I was in 2017,’ says Megan.

‘I hope it gives them, their family and friends the hope, positivity and motivation the keep going.’

To stand with Tamara and Megan at the MCG on 12 August, visit bcna.org.au/fieldofwomen.
Alicia, Tamara, Megan and Rachel

Alicia, Tamara, Megan and Rachel

Issue 82
Autumn 2018