Celebrating five years of Icon Cancer Centre Canberra

Icon Writer / 15 Feb, 2024

The team at Icon Cancer Centre Canberra are marking five years of caring for local cancer patients.

Over 1850 patients have been treated at the centre since it opened in February 2019.

Located at Canberra Specialist Medical Centre, Icon Canberra is led by a team of cancer specialists who provide a wide range of cutting-edge treatment options including radiation therapy, chemotherapy and treatment for blood disorders.

In 2020, the centre became the first in the ACT to treat patients using Varian’s HyperArc technology, which delivers hyper-targeted radiation therapy treatment for multiple brain tumours.

Canberra resident, Sharon is one of the many patients to undergo treatment at Icon Canberra.

In May 2023, Sharon was diagnosed with Stage 2 Triple Negative Breast Cancer in her left breast.

“I discovered a lump in my breast while I was in the shower. It appeared very quickly and I knew that something was not right. I immediately made an appointment with my GP and underwent an ultrasound and biopsy. I didn’t notice any other symptoms prior to discovering the lump,” says 53-year-old Sharon.

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“I felt overwhelmed and frightened. It was also very surreal and almost unreal. It took a while for my emotional brain to catch up with my logical brain with everything happening so fast, as I was thrust into the world of information, appointments and scans.

“I have a small family. My mum and sister’s reaction was to keep me going and prop me up when I was feeling worn down. I’m from a European background, so it’s very much a “let’s get on with this” attitude and when I didn’t have the strength in me, they had it for me.

“My husband, who is my rock, supported me every step of the way. He immediately stepped in and took over the day-to-day tasks that I was struggling with like cooking and cleaning and taking our son to school and picking him up when I just couldn’t get out of bed,” adds Sharon.

Sharon says telling her two sons was difficult.

“I have two sons, a seven and a thirty-year-old. My young son was a trouper and he took it all in his stride. We let him absorb everything in his own time and we were guided by his questions. I became his “bald girl,” after losing all my hair due to the chemotherapy and he was very proud to tell people that I was bald,” says Sharon.

“My older son reacted differently, having a family of his own, he was more aware of the potential outcomes of a cancer diagnosis and was more upset and worried about me. But we are a very communicative family and I was open about sharing what I was going through, which helped him to be able to walk through the process with me and support me as needed.”

Sharon underwent both chemotherapy and radiation therapy at Icon Canberra.

“I could not have wished for a better place than Icon Canberra to receive my treatment. From my very first appointment, I was welcomed and felt very comfortable and at all times I felt safe and reassured during both my chemotherapy and radiation treatments,” says Sharon.

“The environment at Icon is very special. The staff were always available for questions and friendly chats, which provided a professional and supported environment for me to relax and trust that I was in the best of hands. I thought, well I’ve got to do this, so I may as well embrace it.

“Chemotherapy is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but amongst the yuckiness of it all, I can honestly say I looked forward to my treatments and seeing all the friendly faces every appointment.”

Sharon says she met other women going through breast cancer treatment during her time at Icon Canberra.

“As I had become part of the furniture, after seeing familiar faces coming and going, and being a chatty person, I started conversations with other women receiving treatment at the same time and we started to sit with each other when one had finished, and the other was still receiving treatment. I also talked to women just starting out their treatment, offering little tips and advice to help them through,” says Sharon.

“We shared our experiences, laughed and cried about the crazy challenges we faced, both physically and mentally, and have formed friendships and now support each other in life after treatment.”

Sharon says her battle with cancer has made her realise how resilient she is.

“I have learned that I am strong, more resilient and I no longer sweat the small stuff as much as I used to. I have also changed my attitude that “it’s never too late,” and would like to embrace and learn new things that fill up my cup,” says Sharon.

Through Icon Canberra, Sharon was able to access allied health services to provide additional support with exercise and physiotherapy during her cancer treatment. She also attends a breast cancer support group launched by Icon Canberra in 2023, along with a psychology service.

“Having access to a psychology service has been invaluable and has assisted me greatly in acquiring tools to manage through every step of treatment. It helped me recognise that my feelings and reactions were normal and to be expected, even though at times I wasn’t feeling like they were,” says Sharon.

“It has been fabulous meeting and connecting with women in similar situations through the support group. We not only share how we manage through cancer treatment but also managing our lives, work, families and children at the same time.

“Having all of this available at Icon Canberra is very convenient as a one stop shop for all cancer support and services,” added Sharon.

With her treatment behind her, Sharon is enjoying getting back to the things she loves most – walks, reading, puzzles, movies and music.

“I also love dancing and Zumba classes, where I can get my moves on,” says Sharon with a laugh.

Sharon has a heartfelt message to share with the Icon Canberra team.

“I can’t thank the team enough. Thank you for making my time at Icon such a pleasure during the most difficult time in my life. You have all made such a difference to me in a positive way and I am grateful to have received your expertise and care for treating my cancer. Please know that all your hard work and commitment is valued and appreciated.”

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