September 2012, the year that rocked my world. I was 36 years old and just heard “you have breast cancer” mutter out of my doctor’s mouth. I just stared at her, your joking I said, and I laughed. Breast cancer is for women over 50, I’m 36 there must be some mistake, only older women get breast cancer… so I thought. Little did I know, I’d spend the next few years learning how very untrue that statement actually was.
A lumpectomy was ordered, IVF was arranged, a schedule of six months of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation, everything was happening so fast, and I had absolutely no control. A lump the size of a pea was taken from my left breast, the surgeon stood before me and advised there were no clear margins. Off I go for more tests and it appears I have 2 different types of breast cancer. From there on, a full mastectomy was advised.
After the surgery, I started the almost 8 months of rigorous and soul destroying treatment. I tried hard to keep my life as normal as I could, amongst the pain, the sickness, losing your hair, losing a few friends (because all of a sudden you’re that person that people are too scared to visit) and watching your family hurt, because they can’t do anything to help you. You become a person you don’t even recognise in the mirror. The unprecedented strength it takes to get through a cancer diagnoses and its treatment is nothing short of miraculous and I was lucky to have a great support network surrounding me.
Amongst the hard times, came the good ones, all that hard work, the emotional ups and downs, had all paid off, because I was now cancer free – and I stayed that way for 5 years.
In August 2017, I went to my GP with a cough I couldn’t shake from a cold I had three months prior and she immediately ordered a lung x-ray. The wait for those results was horrendous, I knew I hadn’t lived the healthiest of lifestyles, maybe not enough kale?
The results were in and there was no sign of anything wrong with my lungs. Come November the cough was still there, this time I headed in for a CT scan. When I arrived at my doctors for the results, I almost vomited in the carpark. I could feel that something was not right. I could tell by her eyes, choking back the tears herself, Amber the breast cancer is back. After many other tests, the conclusion was the breast cancer had spread to my chest and my bones, I was now Stage 4.
After numerous weeks in hospital, the Oncologist advising my husband to prepare for the worst, we don’t expect your wife to come home, and whatever else the universe could throw at me. I am here, on my 8th chemotherapy, fighting for my life to continue.
It was tough, you don’t just get over cancer once treatment is over, you continue to live it, every single day. If anything, finishing treatment is the scariest thing. You’re thrown back into the real world without the protection of the treatment. The emotional and mental strength it takes to keep yourself out of a mentally dark place is exhausting.
So when someone asks me why I am doing the Carman’s Women’s Fun Run and raising money for BCNA, I tell them because I want to live, and I don’t want anyone, to ever have to go through this debilitating disease, ever again.