“When we look back at this it’s funny? Oh my god, the poor doctor was going to just tell me the results! I was just having a bit of a giggle with my mum after this and I went back into the room to get the results and my mother was behind me. When I heard the results, my face said it all to my mother. My mother just collapsed. I collapsed, but my mother was worse than I was. She fell apart, because she felt like she’d given me this disease. It was just devastating for her as a mother to have to watch her mother and her daughter going through this disease and she knew what I was going to have to go through,” says Julie of her darkest hour.
“We rallied together, but I actually had to support my mother for the first few days because my mother couldn’t cope. Her clock stopped for a period of three days. She couldn’t control her emotions and she didn’t want to talk to anyone and basically gave up for a few days until we said to her ‘Come on Mum, we’ll get through this together. We’ve done it before and we’ll get through it again,” says Julie, her strength of will and determination that saw her battle life threatening cancer evident from the start.
In what is perhaps one of the saddest moments in Julie’s moving story, her mother’s devastation on hearing her daughter’s news was so debilitating that she was unable to accompany her daughter to hospital. “Basically when it came to me going to hospital, my mum couldn’t go with me. It was too distressing for her. My husband and my mother in law came with me. My mother in law had been on every trip I?d been to the hospital so it was just another one for her to go on,” she says.
“That was a very emotional time because when I was going to theatre, when that trolley comes for you to take you off to theatre, it’s horrendous, it’s like you’re going to Hell. And that’s where I felt like I was going and I felt that there was going to be no next day for me. I wanted to give up at this stage. I just thought ‘This is such as sad thing and why is it happening to me? I haven’t done anything wrong in my life? Why? Why? Why? It’s not fair.’
“You’re so angry. And the threat of being taken away from your family is the most horrific thing for me. That was the threat to me. I knew that Mark [Julie?s husband] would get on with his life, he was a man and he was a strong man. But my children weren’t that strong,” confesses Julie in a flood of emotion as she remembers the fear she felt at the thought of leaving her young children motherless.
Julie suddenly interrupts her account with an urgent plea to all women. “I just want to say something. My cancer was detected very early because of research. Thanks to research my life was saved. Without that I wouldn’t be here today.”
Read the second part of Julie’s remarkable story on SheSaid next week as we follow her through her treatment and recovery, and look towards the future.
In the meantime, support breast cancer research this Mother’s Day by participating in the Women In Super ‘Mother?s Day Classic’ held in Sydney and Melbourne. Proceeds from the largest charity-focused fun run in Australia go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s research projects. For more information about information on the race see The Mother’s Day Classic web site or call the National Breast Cancer Foundation on 02 9235 3444.
By Sally Schofield