By BERN MORLEY
Just stop what you are doing for a minute and imagine this. You’re 26. You’re happily married. You have a job you love and a fantastic bunch of friends. In fact, life is freakishly good. So good, you and your partner have finally decided to start the family you have both been longing for. Now imagine, regardless of this, life has other plans for you.
This is exactly where Tara D’Souza found herself just over 3 years ago, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Suddenly she wasn’t only faced with her own mortality, she also had to confront the possibility that her choice to have children may very well be about to be taken away from her, after finding a hard, almond shaped lump in her right breast.
With no prior family history of cancer, Tara initially found herself at a loss to understand. To understand what came next. Why it had happened to her. Why had cancer singled her out. She soon understood though, with the help of the Cancer Council, she wasn’t being singled out.
Tara’s first instinct was to look to the future and knowing that the temporary menopause as a result of chemo may become permanent, she decided to go through IVF as a precaution. Even though at times she says that “she could not even find the strength to fill out the Medicare forms”, she was determined to be a cancer survivor – not a cancer victim. Even though Tara knew she was considered young and “low-risk” she was going to go with her instinct and fertilized embryos and froze them. It was the one process that pointed her towards a future. And hope.
When she was first diagnosed with breast cancer, Tara trusted and relied heavily on the information from the Cancer Council website and continues to access it to this day. Tara says “There is so much information available on the internet, it was good to be able to go to one, trusted site and get all the information I needed.” She urged others in the same position to direct family, friends and work colleagues to. This she said, would save them “having to say the same thing over and over again” when they least had the strength to.
After much guidance from the Cancer Council and being able to access the reputable information on their website, Tara went into battle and her fight was long and difficult. Undergoing several rounds of surgery to have the tumour and lymph nodes removed, this was followed by six cycles of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. She has had hormone treatment therapy and will continue to do so for the next 3 years to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurring.
It’s been and will continue to be, a long and arduous journey for Tara, yet she has selflessly trained to become a volunteer with Cancer Council NSW. She assists with Cancer Connect – a free, confidential service that offers one-to-one emotional support and practical information for people with cancer. “Unless someone has been there, they cannot really understand what you are going through. I definitely believe it is important to raise awareness among young women that it can happen to them and that they should be vigilant about checking themselves and following up on anything abnormal”.
Now Tara is optimistic and feels like her life is getting back to normal. It’s been over two years since radiation and she has enough energy to get involved with Cancer Council’s Pink Ribbon. “I beat Breast Cancer and I know the money that is raised from Pink Ribbon makes a real difference. It helped me and will help other women with breast cancer.”
If you want to help the fight against breast cancer this October there are two simple things you can do: STOP & PINK.
- STOP assuming that the problem is solved. 1 in 9 women, a horrifying statistic, are diagnosed with breast cancer.
- Take some PINK action by registering with Cancer Council’s Pink Ribbon to raise money for breast cancer research, prevention and support.
You can make a difference to women like Tara who are affected by breast cancer – STOP & PINK in any way, big or small. Why not organise a Pink Ribbon fundraiser this October? With the help of friends, family and colleagues you can help fight breast cancer. It doesn’t matter what you do. Get together for breakfast, morning tea or a night out. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you STOP & PINK.
Cancer Council is the only PINK charity that supports women throughout their entire breast cancer journey. When you STOP & PINK, you help fund world-class breast cancer research, support services, prevention and education programs. Every dollar helps.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Pink Ribbon Day held on October 22. Register to STOP & PINK throughout September & October at www.pinkribbonfundraiser.com.au or call Cancer Council on 1300 65 65 85.
If we all STOP & PINK we can beat breast cancer.
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