At just 27 years old I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer; I knew the risks and knew the signs (my mother had battled breast cancer six years prior). I never thought I would actually be diagnosed, although it was a fear.
At the time I worked at Flight Centre and attended a ‘Woman in Business’ networking event, a fun light-hearted lunch and afternoon off work. After the event, I opened my gift bag to go through my goods and found a card from the McGrath Foundation reminding to self-check your breasts.
Looking back, although I had self-checked before, I hadn’t for several months and had it not been for that card I would be in a very different position today because during the check I found a small lump.
It was over the Christmas period, I was busy, so I tried to ignore it, but after a few weeks I finally built up the courage and saw a doctor. Trying to book in a scan during the holiday period was a nightmare and there was an agonising wait to receive the results.
After a few weeks, it was confirmed – my worst fear had come true.
Tests also confirmed that I was BRACA1 positive – a gene mutation which means I am 70% more likely to get breast cancer and 40% more likely to get ovarian cancer than the average woman. Thankfully, my twin sisters don’t have the gene, only my mother and I.
I had one whole year of gruelling chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and have just finished my reconstructive surgery. Today I am 12 months cancer-free, but am still on preventative treatment to ensure the cancer doesn’t reoccur – a fear that of course lingers in my mind. However, I choose to focus on staying healthy on all levels including my mind and emotions. That’s something I never really did before!
My message to any woman, regardless of family history or age is to regularly self-check, is don’t wait for a card. If you are waiting for a sign this is it!
Take control of your health, be proactive and if you notice something or sense something, say something, especially if it doesn’t feel right.
It’s also important for women to know that a breast check isn’t just your breasts – check under your underarms and around your collarbone, your ribs and neck.
I have been a life coach for many years, but this journey brought me to my purpose. Now that I am cancer-free, I run a successful program called The Major Shift teaching women how to become self-reliant on a mind-body-spirit level after a huge life change such as illness, break up or big move.
I hope my story inspires you to take action and be your own breast friend, never take life for granted because I am grateful for each breath!
Thank you for visiting Pink Hope! Keep reading our blog for more articles about breast and ovarian cancer, and find out how to volunteer, support or donate to Pink Hope in the future. Pink Hope is a preventative health hub providing essential tools for assessing, managing and reducing your risk of breast and ovarian cancer, as well as providing personalised support for at-risk women.