In support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month take a moment to read Lisa’s truly inspiring real life story and you might just save a life!
“Lisa Jansz, a 43-year-old mother of two from The Gap in Brisbane, was diagnosed with early breast cancer in June 2007. Having assisted with thousands of breast cancer surgeries during her career as a theatre nurse, Lisa has a unique perspective on living with breast cancer.
I’ve held hands with thousands of breast cancer patients during my career as a theatre nurse, often only minutes before they undergo surgery. I’ve seen and felt their fear as many questions race through their minds: Will I survive this? What will happen after surgery? How will I feel about my body? When will things be normal again – my kids are depending on me, I need to get back to work.
From a more practical perspective, the nature of my work means I know a lot about breast cancer. I know there are many different types of breast cancer which grow at different rates and respond differently to treatments. I know that if diagnosed early, breast cancer can be successfully treated.
What I didn’t know was that I would become a breast cancer patient myself, at just 41. It was a huge shock. I’d been a nurse for 20 years, never did I think I would one day become the patient.
My own breast cancer journey began in June 2007. Just three weeks after my first mammogram I was diagnosed with early breast cancer. After a course of radiotherapy, I tried to stay positive but still was not convinced my cancer journey had ended. And then it happened. Weeks later, I felt a lump the size of a pea under my right breast. It was a HER2-positive tumour, a fast-growing type of breast cancer that demands special attention.
The fact that my tumour was small, just one centimetre in size, was not comforting given the nature of HER2-positive breast cancer. I couldn’t stop worrying about my two teenage children. All I knew was that I had to do everything in my power to survive this. I had to survive for them.
In January 2008, I started treatment for my particular type of breast cancer with a targeted therapy which was able to give me the best chance of survival, along with chemotherapy. I continued to work and was able to rely on a good network of friends – many of them colleagues – to help me through days when I was feeling tired and emotional. I also gained practical and emotional support from Choices, a network for breast and ovarian cancer patients. I took up art classes and even modelled in a gala fashion parade to raise funds during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Twelve months later I was given a good prognosis, having responded well to the treatment. What a moment – I did it! I survived!
My message to other women newly diagnosed is to find out as much as you can about your type of breast cancer at the start, especially your HER2 status regardless of your age or the size of your tumour. Keep yourself informed – it will help you prepare for what’s ahead including which treatment options may work best for you. Also, make sure you celebrate special milestones, it’s important to look back and see how far you’ve come!”
Got an inspiring real life story of your own to share? We’d love to hear it. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Image courtesy http://www.flickr.com/photos/watchblog/