“Towards the end of June, I found a lump in my left breast. I went to my GP and the following day I was sent for an ultrasound and mammogram. There were four small areas of concern and so I had to have fine needle and core biopsies done.
Waiting for the results was the most gruelling time. My breast was growing larger and firmer by the day and finally on the first of July, I took a phone call from my GP saying I needed to go see her: “Oh, and bring Saul with you,” she said.
As soon as we sat down she said it was cancer and that I would definitely need chemotherapy. Saul and I both burst into tears. All I can remember is saying “oh shit!” over and over. We had already been through gruelling times with the loss of one of our children – and now I was diagnosed with cancer.
Our life since diagnosis has changed considerably. For starters, childcare is not the ideal workplace for someone on chemotherapy as the risks of infection are too great, so I have had to stop working. Getting by on one income has proven difficult but thankfully there are support services out there. Our children are able to stay at their day-care and keep their normal routine. Saul is taking days off work to care for me, and my mum is around to take me to some of my chemo appointments.
Losing my hair was my biggest worry. As a woman, I’m conscious of how much my hair defines me. I turned to social media seeking help. I put out a message asking if any photographers would donate their time for a family photoshoot before my losing my hair. I had one photographer contact me and we arranged a photoshoot at our local park. A week later, once my long brown locks were falling out, I again turned to social media, this time for a hairdresser who came to our home and shaved my head so my girls could be involved and see the transformation. Through my tears I could see my three-year-old smiling and encouraging me through it.
Once I was over the shock of having cancer, I began looking into the different services and support I could access. Counselling, group support, alternative therapies, some took my interest, some didn’t. Then I came across Look Good Feel Better. I was a bit unsure as I don’t usually wear make-up, but every week my lovely nurses, while administering my chemo, would say they had only heard good things about the workshops. So I called and registered.
I attended alone as I wanted this time to be about me. It was so great seeing other ladies bald or fuzzy, like me. It was the first time I had gone bald in public, and gave me a little more confidence. Going through skin care, then onto the make-up was simple and easy to follow so much so I have been wearing make-up more often and looking after my skin better! Also having the scarves, turbans, hats and wigs to have a look at too was great. Even having my own wig, it was nice to try some others.
I would definitely recommend anyone with cancer to attend one of these workshops, men too! And if you don’t want to go alone you can bring a friend! It is a great morning meeting new people in similar situations and learning new skills to help me cope and feel better about myself.”