I’m a 39-year-old part-time bookkeeper studying towards becoming an Accounting Technician and mother of three young boys now aged seven, five and three.
My youngest child had just turned one and he had a bit of an obsession with my boobs. He had repeatedly hit me in my right breast, causing me to bruise a little, which also made me feel my breast. That’s when I noticed a lump. I was quite a regular checker so was aware of my ‘normal’. I had just finished breastfeeding so didn’t think much of it, but thought I’d better check it out.
My GP sent me for a mammogram and ultrasound, followed by a biopsy, which found cancer.
From that day forward it was all about how to get rid of it. I had a lumpectomy, which revealed that it was worse than first thought. I had to have a mastectomy, six months of chemo, three weeks of radiation and a year of Herceptin.
One friend rang me and said, “I heard you got some great news.” I was taken aback but he continued to say, “You found it, mate, and that is damn good news because now you can get rid of it.” It was perfect!
It was quite a strange and lonely time. I couldn’t stop thinking about it no matter how hard I tried. I had so much support from family and friends around me and I felt so loved, but no-one can ever know how you’re feeling and I think that’s why I felt quite distant and alone at that time.
From the beginning I told my surgeon I’ll have a double mastectomy and won’t reconstruct. I remain flat chested and don’t wear any prostheses. For me (and I stress “for me” because everyone is completely different and there are no wrongs in these decisions) I couldn’t really see the point in having reconstruction. My breasts had done their job, they had fed my three children and what more did I need? My breasts didn’t define me as a woman and didn’t make a difference to who I was. I believed I would still be gorgeous without them so who needed them? Besides, I was sure it was going to make it easier to be a good runner!
My plans for the future are my family. My plans are to be here to see them grow old just like anyone else really. Staying healthy is obviously a huge priority and my family is my motivation. I have a huge appreciation for how precious and amazing our bodies are and how important it is to look after them.
Early detection is hugely important - it can literally save your life. We all need to stop being blasé about it - you have a responsibility to yourself to check, get checked and know your normal.
By doing this campaign, and not hiding, I want to show people that they have options and the decision is theirs - and theirs alone - when it comes to surgery. I got so much support while I was going through this, from family, friends and strangers, I feel that this is a way of giving back and supporting a fantastic cause.
I also agreed to do it because if I can achieve getting one person to check their boobs, then that’s one life potentially saved.