‘They told me it was a blocked milk duct. It was breast cancer.’

Caring for a newborn is hard enough. Doing it while fighting for your life is a whole different story.

Mairead Moulder discovered a lump in her breast when she was about four months pregnant with her second child. When her doctor told her it was just a blocked milk duct, she put the lump to the back of her mind.

It wasn’t until her newborn daughter Neave’s six-week check-up that another doctor indicated it could be much more serious. And it was.

It was breast cancer.

Mairead with her son, Hayden, and daughter, Naeve. Image supplied.

Two surgeries and almost eight months of chemotherapy later, Mairead is cancer-free. But the road wasn’t an easy one, especially with a toddler and a newborn.

Mairead, now 35, said chemotherapy was “as rough as you hear about” and she would spend eight days in bed after each session.

She felt guilty for not wanting to play with her son because she was so tired and feeling like she wasn’t there for her baby. But she knew they were in good hands as her family stepped up and helped her in her time of need.

Hayden and Naeve. Image supplied.

Mairead said having her hands full with the kids was “probably a good distraction from it all”.

“I’ve only just started to process what I went through – with all the appointments and looking after the kids, I didn’t have time to sit and dwell on it,” she told Mamamia.

“People comment on my positivity, but I had to do it for my kids and family. I thought if I want to live and watch my children grow up, I need to do what I have to do.

“Losing my hair was probably the hardest part of the whole thing – it was when I felt most exposed.


“It was probably worse than my cancer diagnosis. When I had the cancer and surgery, no one knew about it, but when you have lost all your hair, you feel so exposed.”

Mairead shaved her hair and raised $3.5K. Her husband and kids joined in. Image supplied.

Mairead said she had amazing support from her breast care nurse, Natalie.

She said some of the doctor’s appointments were overwhelming, but Natalie would answer all her and her family’s questions afterwards. She visited her in hospital and provided her with the things she would need before Mairead knew she would need them.

But Australia has a critical shortage of breast care nursing services nationally. It is expected to reach a shortfall of 109 nurses by 2020, research released by the McGrath Foundation today, on their 10th anniversary, reveals.

“Not only do breast care nurses support the patient and their families, they also reduce the burden on the health system by limiting unnecessary admissions to emergency departments and supporting oncologists and surgeons in their treatment of patients,” Macquarie University Professor John Boyages said.

Mairead and her breast care nurse, Natalie. Image supplied.

And Natalie is continuing to support Mairead in the final part of her journey, her decision to have a preventative double mastectomy.

“I’m doing it just for my own piece of mind – I don’t know if I could go through that again,” Mairead said.

She said she is looking forward to what the future holds, including “growing some hair”.

“I’ll never complain about a bad hair day again.”

Glenn McGrath outside last night’s pink Opera House to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the foundation established in memory of his wife, Jane.