Was 21 years ago now. I had just given birth to my beautiful son and 3 weeks after he was born i found "the lump". The lump that was to turn my life upside down for quite some time and also those around me, friends and family.
At first i decided "the lump" was mastitus, so i promptly made an appointment to see a gp. I couldnt get in to see my normal gp so i made an appointment with one i had seen before but didnt like. Oh well, i just need some antibiotics or something so that didnt matter! Little did i know! He first prescribed penicillin and i was to go back 3 days later if there was no change. So duely made an appointment to see him again after 3 days. Then i had to go for ultrasound treatment on "the lump" and back again in 3 days if that didnt make a diff. Back to him i go! He then calls in a more senior doctor (who happened to be a friend of the family) and asked him what he thought. His reply was "blocked milk duct most likely". Luckily the gp i was seeing didnt buy that one and stated that he would like to do a biopsy to just see if it was anything more sinister or not. In the mean time i go back to my normal gp to have my check up after having my son and she says the same re blocked milk duct. I should explain that "the lump" was under my arm in breast tissue, although not in the breast. So i then have a biopsy performed and go to get stitches out and am told they cant tell from that one what is happening so we need to do another biopsy. I asked if the frozen section had defrosted on the way and if that was why they couldnt tell? haha I also ask for second biopsy to be delayed a bit as i was meant to go to country week that w/e and no way i could have gone if i had undergone a biopsy on the friday, "no"!!!!! was the answer to that one. So i go have the second biopsy and over hear the nurse afterwards asking my mother if anyone was going to go to the doctors with me to get my results. Hmmmm, this cant be good i think.
The diagnosis and my world drops out from underneath me. I am told "the lump" is amelanotic melanoma and you could have a month to live or X amount of years. Now what i want you to do is go away and live your life like you only have a month to live. My gp also asked me to make an appointment in 3 days time to go back and see him as he said i wouldnt remember much of what he was telling me. (How lucky am i to have such a great gp?!?!?) Now i was a single parent and that meant going to a court of law and deciding legally who was going to raise my son if i wasnt around. I should say here that is something i never could bring myself to do. Who was going to raise my baby the way i wanted him raised?? No one i could think of and luckily i was able to stick around to do it. At this point in time i moved back in with my parents and then life took on a new level of travelling to perth for an appointment which i may need to stay for 1.5 days for and just be prepared to stay overnight.
So we get to the clinic in perth and i dutifully sit down and wait and wait and wait. No one told me we were supposed to hand our little pink slip in. lol So two hours later i politely inquired as to how much longer i might expect to wait, to have the most lovely receptionist exclaim that i should have handed said pink slip in and she would see what she could do. I get to see the oncologist who examined my arm and promptly went to get another oncologist to examine said arm. The second oncologist leaves and he is replaced by another and they all confer and decide that none of them can find the primary, so they will just deal with the secondaries. I get the same story from them as from my gp. Back to the receptionist and am told i need to come back tomorrow, so we ring a friend and stay overnight with her and head back in the morning. On arrival i am told i need to go to G block as i have been admitted. I am liked ohhhhhhhhhh my!! We have only bought enough clothing and supplies for 1 night and they are proposing that i be in hospital for 2 weeks!! Crickeys!!
Each day i am sent for tests that have already been done. The nursing staff were just fantastic and used to fight over who was going to pick up my son when he was awake. 🙂 It got to the point where we needed to go home just for one night to get some things sorted. I was told i ran the risk of losing my bed, but it was a risk i had to take. So we did a quick trip back to Bunbury and back up the following day a lot more prepared.
So after seeing 7 doctors in two days i am pretty much reeling, although prepared for the big op that i was to have. I had most of my lymph glands removed from my right arm pit. My aim after that op was to be able to move the arm up above my head again. The next day after the op i couldnt pick up a pen in that hand neverlone move the arm and walking was agony. The physio came round to get me out of bed to walk down the hallway. Walking towards me was my sadistic professor type surgeon who had the sickest sense of humour of anyone i know. He saw me coming in the opposite direction and lifted his arm and waved gaily at me. lol Not sure i laughed at the time but certainly later on i did. Although i did manage to exact a bit of revenge against him. I returned to see him for my check up and he inquired as to whether i was having problems and i replied "yes, i am umpiring basketball as i cant play and am having immense problems doing a jump ball" haha He just looked at me and told me to go home!!
I repair enough to be sent home and start off with weekly visits back to the hospital for checks which then go into fortnightly ones and so on and so forth until at the 3 year mark i was told i didnt need to go back. An amazing journey was had with good and bad lessons learnt. More good than bad though and like everyone else here i have been through the mill and myriad of emotions and everything else that being told you have "cancer" encompasses.
Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.