In June of last year, just after my 33rd birthday, I got to experience one of the happiest days of my life – marrying the love of my life, Alan. We have a 3.5-year-old son named Johnathan who was named after Alan’s favourite footy player, Johnathan Thurston. The day was just perfect, with our family and friends together with us to share in our incredible joy.
Three weeks after our wedding, whilst we were away on our honeymoon, I noticed two small lumps in my right breast. I was sure it was nothing as I have no family history of breast or ovarian cancer, but once we returned from our honeymoon, I went to see my doctor who sent me for an ultrasound, just to be safe.
The following day we were off on a familymoon to the Gold Coast and one day after we returned, I was sent for a biopsy on the two small lumps I had found. Within three days my results had come back and when my GP held my hands and said to me “I don’t have good news”, I just cried and cried. I could not control my emotions and I found myself wailing in his office for a good 30 minutes before I could stand up to walk out. After several weeks enjoying the highs of such an incredibly happy time in my life, my world had come crashing down. It was the absolute worst day of my life.
At the beginning of August I underwent a double mastectomy and removal of lymph nodes under my arm, and then commenced a schedule of fortnightly chemo for 8 weeks before moving on to weekly chemotherapy for 12 weeks. I also had 5 weeks of radiation therapy, Monday to Friday. My treatment is due to be complete this month.
I had been feeling a little anxious about the changes I was going to experience as a result of my treatment, and I had seen posts on social media about how fantastic the Look Good Feel Better workshops were. One of the nurses at the chemo infusion centre had raved about the program too, so I booked myself in and was excited to attend.
It was a brilliant workshop where I was able to learn so much about what I can do to feel good, and I enjoyed the opportunity to meet other women who were dealing with a difficult situation, like me.
I learnt how to correctly apply my makeup and in what order, and was also taught about the importance of sunscreen, which I now religiously use every day. I also got some great tips on tying a headscarf, and learned how using a headband under a hat can make such a difference with disguising baldness on the sides of my head.
The best thing about the workshop for me though was the wonderful volunteers who run it. They made me feel so comfortable and they were just so nice.
My Dad said to me a few weeks after the workshop that he thought I had perked up some more, and Mum commented on how great my skin looked. The Look Good Feel Better workshop played a big part in that.
I don’t know why this happened to me. I don’t have a strong family history of cancer. I’m only young. I’m not a carrier of the BRCA gene. I breast fed and I live a relatively healthy life. The odds are in my favour, but this still impacted me and my life has completely changed.
Alan and I had planned to have a second child once we were married. We’ve had to put those plans on hold for now. I am on leave from work and my days are now spent either going to the hospital for treatment, at appointments, or laying on the couch recovering from the chemotherapy. I must admit it hasn’t been all bad change. It has made me realise what a busy and stressful life I was living prior to my diagnosis.
I now appreciate my life much more because I feel I have been “shaken awake”. Once I’m done with treatment, I plan on reprioritising my life and giving myself more time for exercising and eating healthy. I’m going to be okay, I just need to get through this rough patch and I am confident I will come out a stronger and more courageous person.
I’m being well looked after by my family and supported by them, as well as my friends. I am so lucky to have such loving, caring people in my life.
I also have a brilliant team of specialists taking care of me with my best interests at heart, and I’m thankful for services like Look Good Feel Better helping me manage along the way.