Breast cancer / 26 Oct, 2021

The power of support

Lee-Anne Cremin

How my professional and personal support helped me find comfort in my chemotherapy treatment

Since losing my father to cancer at age 58 and my mother to breast cancer at age 48, I have always been aware of breast cancer and vigilant with yearly ultrasounds or mammograms. I am incredibly thankful for understanding the importance of being breast aware because in January 2021, with the world still reeling from the impact of COVID-19, I found a lump in my right breast. I was only two months overdue for my routine check-up.

Everyone goes through their cancer differently. For me, the initial couple of weeks after receiving a diagnosis of triple negative breast cancer were daunting. While I was aware of breast cancer and had been there for my parents’ journey, it was completely new to experience it myself. There was so much information that I struggled to comprehend. I would ask myself “why me, why did I get this?” But, as time went on, I have learned that it’s important to always remember and have trust that you’re in experienced and professional hands.

On my first visit to Icon Townsville, I received an education session with two dedicated nurses. They explained many helpful points including side effects, nutrition, hygiene and more. My care team also gave me an understanding of my treatment plan and what was in store to me over the next 20 weeks. This definitely helped reduce some of the anxiety I was feeling.

One thing I particularly valued was always seeing my care team go above and beyond. Undergoing cancer treatment was hard, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. I was faced with two unexpected and daunting experiences that I had to deal with at once. To avoid travelling unnecessarily from my hometown of Ayr to Townsville, my care team planned for me to take my blood tests before the day of my chemotherapy sessions. They would then call me to advise if my blood counts were high enough for treatment to continue. This made sure that I was never turned away last-minute halfway to Townsville.

Nevertheless, the chemotherapy was difficult. As everyone’s body reacts to chemotherapy in different ways, it was challenging when my blood or body would not cooperate normally, meaning there would be delays in my treatment. It was specifically confronting to lose my hair – though it was helpful to know that it would come back after treatment.

My chemotherapy also meant that my brain sometimes felt cloudy, making it hard to concentrate. This is why I was happy to have my husband with me for consultations, both in person and by phone. If he was unable to attend due to the pandemic, it would have been extremely hard as he could retain a lot of the information. Having that support in place during such a confronting time was so important.

I have always tried to be reasonably healthy and exercise, and still will continue this after this challenge. I’m focused on keeping an open mind on life’s challenges and never taking any day for granted. Throughout everything, I am grateful from the support of my husband and three lovely daughters.

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