Leanne's story - Personal stories • Breast Cancer Foundation NZ

Leanne's story

Leanne was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2020 after discovering a lump in her right breast. She had surgery in late April and then had chemotherapy. Leanne hosted her first Pink Ribbon Breakfast last year to raise funds for Breast Cancer Foundation and help find a cure.

I was sitting at home watching TV when my hand went straight to a lump in my right breast. I can’t explain how I knew it was there, I could just sense it and I think my faith helped me to find it. I turned 45 in March so I wasn’t that far off from my getting my first screening mammogram.

My mum’s mother had breast cancer in her late 70s so it does run in my family. I haven’t had genetic testing, it’s not something I know about.

My heart sank when I got my diagnosis. Then we went into lockdown, which made things even harder for me. I was meant to have surgery on 1 April but this was delayed for three weeks because of Covid-19. On 21 April I had the lump removed through a bilateral therapeutic mammoplasty and breast reduction on both breasts. I don’t think the delay had an impact on my outcome. I was put on tamoxifen before my surgery to stop the lump from growing.

I then started chemotherapy. I was very emotional and scared of the unknown. I had no idea how sick it would make me. But I was really lucky, I didn’t get any of the bad side effects. I had six months of chemo, then three weeks of radiation and I’m now on tamoxifen for the next five years.

My husband Blaine, my high school sweetheart, was my rock throughout all of this and I hold him very close to my heart. I’m also very thankful to my surgeon, doctors and nurses for their care and kindness.

The generosity I’ve seen from my community since my diagnosis has been amazing. My fridge was bursting at the seams because so many people made meals for us, and I had so many offers of help with the housework after my surgery. Receiving so much kindness really helped with my recovery and people also showed heaps of love for my fundraising efforts. I set a target to raise $500 through my Pink Ribbon Breakfast and I’d more than doubled that before I’d even held my event!

I was excited to be hosting a Pink Ribbon Breakfast for the first time because it was a way for me to give back to an organisation doing such good work for people with breast cancer. I held an afternoon tea in Akaroa with a few other women in my community who have also had this disease. It was such a great way to together with others who have been through this journey and share our experiences.

Leanne is 45 and lives in Duvauchelle. She’s a mum to four sons and works at Bee Nice Honey Emporium in Akaroa.

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