New Icon Mildura centre allows Alison to spend precious time with her young family

Icon Writers / 12 May, 2023

Mildura mother-of-two, Alison Bateman was recently diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.

The diagnosis came only 10 months after the birth of her second child, Evan.

Alison has lived in the Sunraysia region her entire life and resides there with her husband Beau, their daughter Indiana 5 and son Evan, who recently turned one.

The 38-year-old is the first patient to receive radiation treatment at the new state-of-the-art Icon Cancer Centre Mildura.

Alison’s breast cancer journey began when she observed a change in her right breast.

“I had been breastfeeding Evan since he was born and I noticed a lump last year in my right breast,
says Alison.

“I went to the doctor and got it checked and I was told it was a galactocele cyst (a benign retention cyst of the breast, defined as a milk-filled cyst).

“Since January this year, the lump continued to get bigger in size and changed in shape.

“It was also at this time that I started to have pain in my hips, which was starting to concern me.

“I was sent for a mammogram and CT scans in early March and received my initial diagnosis of breast cancer.

“On March 20, we attended the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, where I received the full diagnosis of stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, with positive hormone receptor, also known as triple positive.

“We had all hoped that my diagnosis had been received early enough and that we could move forward with surgery and treatment as necessary.

“It was at this point that we were told that it had spread to other parts of my body and had done so quickly.

“We didn’t know what to say when the doctor was explaining everything to us.

“My first thought was of my two beautiful children. I just have to be around to see them grow up.”

Following her diagnosis, under the care of radiation oncologist Dr Andrew See, Alison’s medical team moved quickly to come up with an extensive treatment plan.

This included hormone treatment and radiation therapy treatment for her breast and hips along with surgery to her right hip to support the bones from potential fracture.

Alison began with four radiation therapy sessions at Icon Cancer Centre Richmond in April and after a short break, resumed at Icon Cancer Centre Mildura, where she will undergo a further 28 sessions.

When Dr See spoke to Alison about transferring her to the newly opened Icon Cancer Centre Mildura to have the remainder of her treatment, Alison was relieved and elated at being home for the remainder of her treatment, which will take around six weeks to complete.

“I was so relieved when Andrew told me I could have the remainder of my treatment at Icon in Mildura. My time is limited, so any time I can spend with my family now is precious,” says Alison.

“Evan is changing so quickly. He’ll be walking any day now and I don’t want to miss those changes. I just want to spend as much time as I can enjoying life with my family and friends.

“My sister looked after the children in Mildura while my husband and I were in Melbourne for surgery to my hip and the start of my radiation treatment.

“I had never left Evan overnight before and it was heartbreaking being away from Indiana and Evan for that period. But I knew the treatment needed to be done and it needed to be done quickly.”

Alison is the local Branch Manager for Infrabuild Steel Centre Mildura, who supplied all the structural steel for the Icon Cancer Centre Mildura build.

“I knew about the new (Icon) centre and was involved in the build from early in the process. I never imagined I’d need to use the centre myself for cancer treatment,” says Alison.

As Alison continues her treatment in these early stages, she says the hardest part of being diagnosed with terminal cancer is the unknown for her children, worrying about the future and how her husband will cope without her.

She is determined to make precious memories and each day count.

“This has all happened so quickly and it’s been a whirlwind. I was only diagnosed in early March this year, so it’s still very raw,” says Alison.

“My daughter can tell something is wrong but doesn’t know how bad it is. She asks if I’m ok and I just tell her “Mummy has sore bones.” For now, I’m choosing to focus on watching my children grow.

“I’m hoping my hormone treatment and the radiation therapy treatments I’m having at Icon in Mildura will prolong my life, giving me more time to be present with my children and husband.”

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