At 23 I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer; I am now 31 and living in rural NSW in Dubbo.
My story is long, and I have had it all. I have had chemo twice, lost my hair twice, had expanders and implants – you name it and I’ve been through it.
Living in a rural town and facing a cancer diagnosis can be extremely isolating. When I was first diagnosed, I found myself at a local support group in a room filled with older women who I struggled to connect with. These women tried to explain treatments, options and emotions associated with breast cancer to me, but at 23 I was extremely overwhelmed and could not absorb it all.
I did not have access to the different types of support services available in Sydney which meant that I had to do a lot of my own research to find out about alternative therapy, IVF information, aftercare post-surgery treatment. When I think back, I remember the countless hours I spent researching – it was hard but the knowledge I gained has inspired me to help other women facing similar situations to mine.
When I cross paths with someone dealing with a diagnosis, I always tell them to find healthcare professionals that you work well together with. Whether it’s a doctor, a surgeon or a counsellor, make sure you find someone that you feel a connection with, this will make it easier to keep up to date with your health checks.
Last year I was diagnosed with secondary cancer, this is my third cancer diagnosis and although it can be scary, I try to remain positive and embrace the small joys life has to offer.
No matter when or how you receive a diagnosis, cancer is cancer no matter and it is important to recognise the many emotions and raw feelings that are associated with it. I wholeheartedly believe that women and men can still live life to the fullest while dealing with cancer and chemotherapy.
My journey has taught me many things including to remember to embrace everything life has to offer and enjoy the small things because life can still continue when you have cancer.