This week I’m trying to encourage my readers to think about their bodies.
The last post discussed my dear friend Ned, who died from breast cancer.
Well this post is much happier.
Kim is my second cousin. Our families had quite a lot to do with each other as we grew up. To me, Kim and her sister Kristie were always the glamorous cousins – the ones from Sydney who lived a life I didn’t understand, but when they hit the country they mucked in with best of us!
As time went by we sort of lost contact – we heard each others news through our mums, who are cousins, and then reconnected through Facebook (it does have its advantages!)
Kim is an incredibly brave person. I have followed her throughout her treatment and I can’t tell you how proud I am to have her as a cousin. After what she’s been through, she’s still smiling, loving, laughing and enjoying every moment of her life.
This is Kim’s story:
My roller coaster year began the day before I flew to Los Angeles for a two-week work trip. I was in the car when the phone rang. It was the rooms of the breast surgeon to whom I’d been sent two years prior and who had been monitoring a small area of calcifications that had been detected on my left breast. I can’t believe how lucky I was to have had such a diligent GP. He’d sent me to the specialist a year earlier for a mammogram, just in case….
There is a history of cancer in my family. My dear father died way too young, aged 52, from prostate cancer and his sister, my full-of-life aunty, passed away from bowel cancer a year later.
For this reason I always felt I needed to be a bit more cautious than the next girl, and tried to listen to my body. In the shower I regularly checked my large bump breasts for lumps. It’s ironic that when they discovered my Grade two cancer, it was not a lump but these tiny white dots on the mammogram, which in the year we watched them, had moved and changed shape.
It’s hard to be too retrospective at this stage as I’m still very much in recovery mode. The chemo took my spark, but my energy levels are slowly being restored, and my hair is now starting to grow back.
I know I’ve been traumatised, to a degree, by everything that’s happened to me and I know that the ‘physical’ has almost been dealt with. In two months I’ll have my last surgery, which will give me ‘new boobs’.
I feel the ‘emotional’ has just begun though, and I’m told this is a normal part of the process. The ‘process’ has included a double mastectomy (the removal of both my breasts), and six months of chemotherapy, which to date has also taken my fertility. This is the hardest thing to deal with. Believe me, when you go through an experience like this, getting on with life, having babies and being normal, suddenly becomes a massive priority.
Through the entire experience, I guess the biggest surprise and most frightening thing for me was that I never felt unwell, and I was diagnosed at the healthiest time of my life.
There was no lump or feeling of being unwell. It was just extremely good surveillance that kept the real possibility of a life threatening situation at bay.
So no matter how old you are, if there is a history of breast, bowel or prostate cancer in your family, you may be that tiny bit more at risk.
Amazing things can come from a cancer diagnosis. There are definitely positives to go with the negatives. To date I’m a survivor. I have six years to live before I will be classified ‘cured’ or ’cancer free’ but I have already implemented changes in my life to ensure that milestone is reached.