Breast cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia, with over 20,000 people diagnosed last year. Townsville pharmacist, Becky Sinclair was one of them. The 44-year-old mother of two was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in September 2021.
Making the most of life following breast cancer
After finding a "marble" sized lump, Becky's breast cancer journey moved quicker than she could have imagined.
“I felt a lump in my right breast. It felt like a marble, and it fluctuated with my cycle. Lumpy breasts are common in my family, so I just thought it was a cyst. I was planning to go to the doctor to have it examined but I didn’t get around to making an appointment. Thankfully not long after I had discovered the lump, I bumped into a friend at a local coffee shop who was diagnosed with breast cancer in her thirties and had undergone a mastectomy. I told her about my lump and how I had been meaning to go to the doctor. She told me to stop putting it off and urged me to book an appointment straight away. From there, it all happened very quickly. I booked in to see a GP at the doctor’s surgery next to my work. I was sent off to do all of the necessary tests. And then I got the call to say the doctor needed to see me. When she told me the news, I was in shock. Being a health professional, I knew what it was, but I was in disbelief,” says Becky.
From there, Becky underwent surgery. Just two weeks after her diagnosis, Becky commenced chemotherapy at Icon Cancer Centre Townsville.
“It was a rollercoaster ride. My body didn’t like the chemotherapy. At the start of my treatment, I spent a week in hospital. At the time, Townsville was in a COVID-19 lockdown, so I was isolated and couldn’t see anyone. That was tough but it also gave me time to reflect. I was having a good cry one day when one of the hospital cleaners came into my room. She told me that she is a breast cancer survivor.”
“She was diagnosed 20 years ago, and she is still here and going strong. It made me realise that one in seven women will get breast cancer and I was simply one of them. I needed to stay strong and fight the cancer,” says Becky.
Becky endured ongoing health complications during her four-and-a-half months of chemotherapy treatment. She endured a surgery to insert a portacath, which then moved and required another surgery. She battled peripheral neuropathy and required numerous blood transfusions. She credits the support of her family, friends and the team at Icon Cancer Centre Townsville for getting her through.
“My husband was my rock, and my children were amazing. My friend who prompted me to go to the doctor was in contact every few days to see how I was doing. It was wonderful to have someone who had been on the same rollercoaster ride and knew what I was going through. I had friends who took me to chemotherapy and took me out for coffee when I felt up to it, so I could still get out and about and enjoy life. And the team at Icon Townsville were simply amazing. The support and empathy they gave me was just what I needed to get through the treatment. They made me feel normal in what was a challenging time.”
In February this year, Becky underwent a mastectomy. She is now determined to make the most of life after cancer.
“I was exceptionally lucky to have a very caring work family. Cate’s Chemist have a charity ball each year with the proceeds donated to the Cancer Council and this year was a little more emotional for me. As a mum, you often put things aside to focus on your children. My cancer journey has made me realise that I need to fulfil my own dreams as well. I want to study again. I have an interest in chemotherapy research, the aged care sector and diabetes. I haven’t decided what I’ll focus on yet, but I have a strong desire to learn new things. I also want to travel more. Travelling is a wonderful way to see how other people live. If I have learned anything from my cancer experience, it’s that you must live in the moment and make the most of what you have. I also want to encourage other women to get checked. If something doesn’t feel right, see a GP. It could save your life.”
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Icon brings together some of Australia’s most experienced medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and haematologists.
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