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Heidi’s Story

17 Sep 2014 by Krystal Barter
Heidi’s Story

My name is Heidi. This is my Pink Hope Story.

One such moment was my Mum’s diagnosis of breast cancer – I was 16 years old in year 11 at high school. My Dad was overseas working as a geologist and my brother in Canberra at University. Time felt frozen and things played out in slow motion. My Mum showed a positive can do let’s get on with this attitude. I saw a new woman emerge. She needed chemo and a radical mastectomy. At night I would sob what if I was to lose my Mum? All those moments in life yet to be lived that I so wanted my Mum there for, getting married having children I didn’t want to lose her. Fortunately that was 23 years ago and my Mum is still with us in good health. She did have a lumpectomy a few years back and radiotherapy due to another diagnosis of breast cancer in her other breast. Twice she beat cancer she is one of the lucky ones.

In February this year I went for my first Mammogram 10 years younger than my Mum had been when first diagnosed. I went on my own and they wanted to take some close ups, I kept calm saying this was routine. I then had the ultrasound. I was asked to see the radiographer, I sat down and he put the slides up in the light box. Immediately I could see about a dozen speckled dots. My heart sunk and tears streamed down my face. I knew immediately this was cancer. He told me not to panic they would need to do a biopsy to see what it was. My immediate reaction was cut them off give me a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction. I did go for the biopsy under mammogram which was awful but I had my husband in tow. I think I cried through the whole procedure and even the Radiographer was shaking at the end. It was confirmed DCIS – precancerous. Some-how I had dodged a bullet now I too was a lucky one. I was sent to Westmead BCI and referred to Dr Judy Kirk for genetic testing for the BRCA gene because of my Mum’s history and also an Aunt on my Dad’s side. The results were inconclusive. I had a lumpectomy hoping it would be the end of it – the results came back that both margins were involved, it was a lot longer than thought 8mm turned into 32mm+. I was given two options have another lumpectomy to scrap more tissue and radiotherapy or have a mastectomy. I did a lot of research and I didn’t want radiotherapy due to the side-effects and tissue damage that may result, reducing surgical options if required later. I have opted for a single mastectomy and reconstruction using implants. I was sitting at BCI reading Krystal’s book laughing when she was describing when her implant went missing searching through the bed and it ended up in her armpit bringing new meaning to tuck shop arms. You do need a good sense of humour to get through this.

I believe attitude can change a situation you either see something as an ordeal or an adventure. This is going to be the biggest ride of my life so much positive has come of what some would consider a bad situation. I have met the most amazing women through Pink Hope who have shown such courage and strength and just got on with life. Really living for the moment and enjoying life. In less than a week from now I will have my surgery under Dr James French who has been amazing. My husband knows this hasn’t been easy for me so has booked a romantic getaway to the Hunter Valley this weekend. I can’t wait, I am looking forward to some serious relaxation prior to surgery. I sat watching videos of my children when they were much younger they are so beautiful a reason to fight and endure anything life. I know I am making the right decision not only for me but also for them, there are too many memories still to write. I have had nights were I have sobbed it is an emotional journey. One that has been eased by sharing feelings and experiences with others who have already walked the same path.

I was invited by Julie-Anne to attend the Ambassadors weekend away – I had all sorts of excuses – I am not an ambassador yet, it’s a lot of money, who is going to mind the kids. Julie-Anne is very persuasive before I knew it I had signed up. I had no idea what I was in for. Turns out it was the best decision I have made in a long time. Now all I can focus on is that silver lining – my cancer will be gone and I may even have better boobs than I do now whoo hooo. I can’t wait till next year’s Ambassadors Weekend and hopefully I will be the one helping others realise that your boobs don’t define you – it’s the relationships and people that you love. This has been like a golden ticket a chance to re-evaluate what really matters. I consider the women I have made friends with through Pink Hope to be my Warrior Maiden sisters. Who would of thought cancer could bring such positive happiness to one’s life, there have been sad moments but so much good too. There is no need to walk this path alone.

Heidi plus

Thank you to Pink Hope and all the beautiful women who have embraced me, encouraged, inspired and supported me on this journey.

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