We all know someone who has been affected by breast cancer. You hear this all the time, don’t you? I do. But, I didn’t know anyone affected by breast cancer until five years ago.
Seven years ago, when I was a new mum for the first time with a ten-week-old, I found a lump on my breast. It was that moment that I realised that I wasn’t invincible and it was that moment that my health anxiety started and thankfully for me, it was benign, I made a promise the day I found out that I was fine, that I would choose the McGrath Foundation as the cancer charity I will donate to each year, in fact, within seconds of finding out my results, I made an immediate online donation for those who didn’t get that same phone call as I did.
Five years ago, my mother-in-law, by chance with an MRI (not a mammogram or ultrasound) found out she had breast cancer, she caught it early. Two years ago, my aunty Helen (41 at the time – you can follow her on IG HERE) by chance, found out she had breast cancer and she too caught it early. Five years ago, was the unexpected day that I could say, I knew someone, someone in my family, that was affected by breast cancer.
As we raise awareness this October again for those supporting The McGrath Foundation from companies such as BP, I thought it was timely to share with you my story below, at how the Foundation has been a special charity to me and for those wanting to hear my aunty’s story about how and when she found out her lump was breast cancer, you can read her story (HERE)
In 2011, the most amazing moment in my life happened, I became a mother for the first time. As much as it was a special time for me, it was also a hard time; the first two months of motherhood were tough. I had a non-stop crying baby, he hated being in the car so I had to walk everywhere, he hardly slept so we were all so tired and we couldn’t get the breastfeeding thing to really, efficiently, work, he was crying because he was probably hungry!
When Aston was 10 weeks old and after I got mastitis, I decided to stop breastfeeding and start formula feeding. A hard decision for me, but in the end it was best for both of us. Not long after, I was sitting on the couch, feeling my boobs, as you do, and I found a lump in my left breast. I didn’t panic; I simply called up my GP and made an appointment to have it looked at.
After having my breast checked, the doctor sent me off to get an ultra sound, I didn’t really panic, I just picked up my baby and went straight to the hospital for the ultrasound. Looking back at this time, I am pretty proud of how I handled this process, if it was today, I would already be panicking, in fact, I would be freaking out from the moment I found it on the couch.
I was called in to see my doctor to hear the results of the ultrasound and it was great news, the left breast lump was just tissue or scaring from the mastitis, phew! The right breast had an unusual lump. Enter the beginning of my anxiety.
What? I don’t understand, so I went in to get my left boob checked and I am leaving having to get my right boob biopsied? What if I didn’t get the left breast checked in the first place?
I was booked in to see a breast surgeon, Dr Neil, I took my mother in law with me and my little baby, for some reason, having my baby there made me feel safe. I remember making sure I was holding him when I first met Dr Neil, kind of like he was my protective shield, nothing could happen to me because I have a baby!
The biopsy was taken whilst I was awake; they numbed my breast and took a sample from that lump in my right breast. It was pretty simple, I was very scared and I was biting my left hand the entire time to get me through it. From the moment I left that operating room, I wasn’t ok. I soon made a long life friend, her name: anxiety. From that moment up until my results came through, I couldn’t eat, I was vomiting, I was going to the bathroom, I couldn’t sleep, I prayed and prayed and cried at church where people laid hands on me to heal me, no one knew how to help me or talk to me or what to say to me and, I had a new baby to care for.
I called for the results a few times each day, until finally, they had my results, benign. I fell to the floor weeping.
One hour later, I picked up my laptop and searched for the McGrath Foundation website. I made a substantial donation to this charity in that moment and I promised to do so every year. If I felt all those emotions that I felt over those past few weeks and then ended up with a benign result, how do those women less fortunate in this instance cope? Who do they speak to, who holds them and who is with them every step of the way? The McGrath Breast Care Nurses, that’s who!
This is my testimony to why I have supported this foundation since 2011 and this is why I am writing this blog post, to share my story and to encourage awareness of breast cancer awareness month, which is October.
In 2013, my mother in law found out she had breast cancer after it not being detected in an ultrasound or mammogram but in an MRI. Thank goodness, she got it early and she had radiation treatment for many weeks and today is cancer free.
McGrath Breast Care nurses generously work with the thousands of women diagnosed with breast cancer each year. The care and love they give these women is vital, and I always receive a lovely hand written card from them each year to thank me for supporting them.
BP Australia has been a long standing supporter of the McGrath Foundation for many years with the aim to fund more McGrath Breast Care Nurses.
I encourage you to do two things: watch the video below to hear from Bec Douros and Amanda’s family on the invaluable support they received from the McGrath Foundation and to pop into your local doctor for a regular breast check, I now do so every year.
For more info and to donate visit https://www.mcgrathfoundation.com.au