By ALEXANDRA STEWART
In 2005, nine weeks before my wedding, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Five years later, I was still taking tablets to treat it.
Since my diagnosis, I have waxed and waned when it came to being involved in anything to do with cancer. At times, I wanted to throw myself wholeheartedly into breast cancer awareness and support, and at other times I wanted to just relegate it all to my past.
Until the day I found myself standing in a pink poncho on the MCG.
I am not really sure how I came to find out about the Field of Women in 2010. I am sure that my partner and I didn’t discuss going with anyone else. But the allure of a pink poncho was too much for me. My husband sported a pink poncho too. We had absolutely no expectations and just thought we may even stay for the football match afterwards.
We fronted up early on the day, I don’t like being late, and collected our pink Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) backpacks, and filed into the lower stands of the MCG. Being among the first to arrive, we sat in the stands and thought we would take some photographs to mark the occasion. Not knowing anyone, the photographs of ourselves together had to be ‘selfies’ and we kept to ourselves.
I was still uneasy talking to others who had or have had breast cancer, but as I turned around to see the stadium filling up, I immediately choked up. I’m choking up recalling it now. Where was this coming from … this emotion? Why now? The number of people with breast cancer, the number of survivors and the number of supporters was overwhelming. It was dawning on me the gravity of what I had become unwittingly involved in by having breast cancer. I wept in my husband’s embrace.
There were so many women (and men) who have had to endure the worst possible life experience, and I felt a connection with these strangers. Some were laughing and smiling with friends and family, some were sitting like us as a couple, looking scared and not daring to strike up a conversation with anyone else. Many were having a bit of a cry.