When you live a healthy active life, breastfeed two babies continually for four-and-a-half years, keep up breast checks constantly for 20 years - you can still get this disease, but you can also survive.
The first question my breast specialist surgeon asked me when he showed me my breast tumour on the scan was, "What is your level of fear about this?" Great question, I thought, and I honestly assessed it. No fear of any major long-term consequence, definitely no fear of dying from it - more being angry that I was one of the one in nine women in the statistics who get this indiscriminate disease.
As an extremely healthy, intelligent , aware recently turned 50-year-old woman who had breastfed religiously, and also continually checked on my lumpy cyst-filled breasts I was quite 'pissed' that this had happened. But now I am on the journey, doing everything possible to ensure that I will be cancer-free for the rest of my intended long life. I recently only just lost my last grandparent aged 94 and I fully intend to get to that age myself. So two surgeries, lumpectomy and axillary lymph nodes, now short sharp chemo, then radiation, then Tamoxifen, will help me get there.
And still no fear... just positive hope, and a daily sharing of my story via Facebook to everyone I know in the world. I am putting up a photo diary to share my journey, and hoping that the pleasure I have in sharing my daily photographs and positive energy I give out, along with the amazing positive messages I get back from my world whanau will all play an enormous part in keeping the fear away so I can focus on getting 100% well again.
The hundreds of thousands of women who go through this are all amazing and I am proud to be in your company.