I’m a cancer survivor! It’s a phrase that I have always shied away from using. I didn’t have to endure chemotherapy or lose my hair – but I have had the “Big C”, and no please don’t look at me like that! (That was always the hardest part – watching someone’s face drop and seeing that look in their eyes).
January 2004 – a Monday morning. I’d had a total thyroidectomy on the Friday prior and I was still waiting for the pathology reports. I lay in my hospital room waiting for the results. Just months earlier after finding what could be described as quite a lump in my throat (it was like an Adam’s apple which on a female is a little odd!) I’d headed to the doctors. I didn’t think at first that much was wrong. Sure, I used to go home and sleep straight after work, and I had put on weight but I put that down to eating too much KFC! Anyway, after two biopsies I was still referred to as “inconclusive”. It was my choice to go under the knife and wear the scar for the rest of my life.
Waiting was the hardest part. As Dr Isabel entered the room that Monday morning I knew that the results had shown it was cancer. Calmly, I took those words in and listened to what treatment was next. I’d have to spend a night or two in the RAH in isolation – after a high dose of radioactive iodine which is how they kill any remaining cells in your body.
I suppose I could say I was lucky knowing that my sister had gone through this at the age of nine, twenty years earlier, and she was fine. Six months after my treatment, my mum had her thyroid removed due to cancer, too. Half of my family can now claim to be cancer survivors! Now ten years on, I’ve seen friends battle the disease, lose their hair and come out the other side to realise their dreams. But, we are the lucky ones. There are many who succumb to cancer, and I’ve experienced the grief of losing them as well.
That’s why when Angie and Henri from Many Faces of Cancer approached me and Hughes PR to help support this year’s charity dinner I couldn’t say no. I saw this event as a great way to remember those who didn’t survive and to help those who will one day be sitting in that hospital room waiting for their diagnosis.
For more information view the video on the Many Face of Cancer website. manyfacesofcancer.com.au