Loving wife, mother-to-one & breast cancer survivor, WOLLONGONG
In 2012, happily married Wollongong resident and mother to an adorable four year old boy, Melanie, then 37, received a heart-wrenching diagnosis of stage 2B breast cancer.
Prior to her diagnosis Melanie performed monthly self-examinations, which is how she uncovered her breast lump. When she identified and voiced her concern about the lump in her breast to her GP, she was assured there was no cause for alarm. So Melanie continued to go about her life.
Five months later, and still concerned about her own welfare, Melanie sought a second professional opinion. On this occasion, she underwent a physical examination, a mammogram and an ultrasound. A week later, Melanie was diagnosed with ER positive breast cancer – a type of cancer spread in response to oestrogen.
This is Melanie’s story.
“I was starting to experience regular joint pain and mouth ulcers. I then discovered a lump under my breast,” Melanie said.
“I raised my concern with my GP who mistakenly attributed the symptoms to my period.
“Although my Aunty had been diagnosed with breast cancer, I had not been undergoing regular mammograms before my diagnosis, however I cannot emphasise enough, the importance of monthly self-examination for all women, because that’s how I found my breast lump,” said Melanie.
“Five months after my initial GP visit to discuss my breast lump, I knew something wasn’t right. So I booked an appointment with another doctor.
“After examining my breast lump, the doctor immediately referred me for a mammogram and an ultrasound,” Melanie said.
A week later, Melanie received an unprecedented, after-hours phone call from her doctor, informing her she had breast cancer. The following Friday she underwent a lumpectomy.
“I was devastated. My son had only just turned four, and I was panicking he would be left motherless,” said Melanie.
Throughout the course of her cancer treatment, which included surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a medication designed to treat or reduce the symptoms of Hormone Receptor Positive breast cancer, Melanie received overwhelming support from her family and friends.
“My family and friends were fantastic. Everyone came together to support me.
“My son Liam however, found it really hard at the time, so chose not to visit me in hospital,” Melanie said.
“I had been hospitalised for a week after my surgery, to drain my lymph nodes, and I recall begging the staff to let me go home, because I couldn’t bear to be away from Liam any longer.
“Fortunately, the hospital permitted my release and organised a nurse to treat me at home,” said Melanie.
As a breast cancer survivor, Melanie is an advocate for For Benefits Medicines – Australia’s first for-benefit pharmaceutical company whose purpose is to distribute 100 per cent of profits to local breast cancer patient support and medical research organisations.
“Initially, I thought I was strong enough to battle my cancer without any extra support.
“However, I soon realised that help and support from my husband, my Mum, family, friends and nurses was essential to me,” Melanie said.
“That’s why I think the FBM initiative is so fantastic – because it’s designed to help fund breast cancer patient support programs today, and medical research tomorrow.”