Today, the 5th of January 2017, is Jane McGrath Day, and the Sydney Cricket Ground has turned pink for the annual #PinkTest. The foundation is aiming to raise $390,000 for breast cancer support. To donate, click here.
Tarah was 27 and a mum to a beautiful, healthy, 18-month-old boy, when she came across an unusual lump underneath her nipple.
She wasn’t consciously “checking” her breasts at the time. She didn’t think she had to. “It was just by accident, I just sort of grazed my nipple and I felt like a lump,” Tarah told Mamamia.
She had been told by a doctor in the past that she had naturally “lumpy breasts”, but something about what she felt that night made her uncomfortable.
In the past, the lumps had felt like “little peas” but this was different. “It was odd shaped... It was like a mass that wasn’t pea-shaped or anything. I thought it might be like a cyst or something,” she said. When she asked her husband about it, he suggested she go and seek a second opinion.
Tarah visited her local GP, who recommended she go for an ultrasound.
Three and a half weeks later she was called back into her GP. She thought they’d discovered a benign cyst, and they’d be booking her in to get it removed. At no point did she imagine that it was “anything sinister”.
“I was by myself when she told me,” Tarah said.
"I remember exactly how she looked at me. She pretty much said to me 'so your results have come back and it looks like you have breast cancer', and I didn't hear anything else after that, it was just hazy.
"I just knew I had to get home and speak to my husband."
It was when Tarah visited the breast surgeon four days later that she realised how serious her condition was. "She [the breast surgeon] put my films up on the light box, and you could see the cancer mass, and it actually measured about six centimetres.
It was bigger than they anticipated and she said based on that size we recommend a mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and then depending on what type of breast cancer it is, you'll need to go on some form of hormone therapy for at least three years."
Tarah was diagnosed with breast cancer on the 29th of February 2012, and on the 6th of March, she underwent a full mastectomy.
Surgeons also removed all her lymph nodes from her underarms.
"It was quite a long surgery, I'd never been under general anesthetic before so, the night I was in hospital for the mastectomy was the first night I ever had away from my son as well, I mean considering the nature of it it was pretty sad anyway," she told Mamamia.
"I'd had a really positive breast feeding experience so the possibility that I might not be able to breastfeed again, or have another child again was devastating," Tarah recalled.