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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and this years’ theme is ‘Cancer Says I Can’t, I Say I Can’ encouraging patients and survivors to live their best life possible. Mater patient Jane Anderson shares her inspirational story of overcoming cancer and advice for all women.
Jane was a happy, healthy 33-year-old mother of three children with a loving husband, great job and busy social life until she found a lump on her breast while showering one day.
Jane was low risk for breast cancer, she had delivered and breastfed three children had no family history of breast cancer and was otherwise fit and healthy.
Within two weeks Jane had the results of her mammogram and things were not looking good, she had been diagnosed with a triple negative breast cancer
Mater Breast Care Nurse Jen Dalton explains that around 15 per cent of breast cancers are triple negative.
“This is where oestrogen, progesterone and HER2 receptors are not found. They are generally responsive to chemotherapy however treatment usually involves surgery and radiotherapy as well. It’s a very intense experience for the patient,” she said.
“Jane underwent nine months of treatment at Mater Hospital under our care; it was an incredibly difficult time for her and her loved ones.”
Jane describes the experience of having chemotherapy as the hardest thing she has ever had to do.
“It was a really rough trot; the mental and physical exhaustion was often unbearable. I have three young children and there were often days where I was too physically exhausted to get out of bed,” she explains.
“As a mother you are so used to putting yourself last because that’s just what you do for your family. Through my illness I was forced to take care of myself and that ultimately turned out to be the lesson I needed to learn.”
On the 26 April 2018 Jane was declared cancer free, she had overcome so much in such a short time but she knew her journey was not over and she found a new lease on life.
“I realised life was too short and I couldn’t keep going at the speed I had been, I learned to slow down and appreciate the little things. I also have a new level of self confidence where I don’t second guess myself,” she said.
“I know it sounds a bit corny but I would liken it to a spiritual awakening for lack of a better phrase. I have tried to turn a negative into a positive as I know it’s all about attitude and perspective.”
Jane is aware that there have been others who have gone before her who have not been so lucky, she is aware she had been propelled by survivor’s obligation to live her life to the fullest.
She has helped Mater Foundation with various fundraising events and participated in the Chicks in Pink Fun Run. While she was having treatment Jane’s family ran the fun run and was awarded most money raised by a family.
“I was very well looked after at Mater, the team were incredible and I am so grateful for everything they did for me, especially Jen and her team and my surgeon Dr Emma Clarkson they were all amazing,” she said.
Today life is good for Jane, she is studying counselling, working as a make-up artist and so far has a clean bill of health.
“I am taking my recovery day by day, I have learnt to be kind to myself, slow down and listen to my body. I make sure I take time out when I need to,” she said.
“To other women who may be going through this I would let them know that while it seems like it isn’t going to end and you forget what it’s like to not be sick, don’t lose hope and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
“Finally to girls everywhere, no matter how young, no matter how fit, no matter how healthy… make sure you check your breasts and see your doctor if you find something.”
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