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Amanda says she feels lucky, positive and happy. We should all learn from her.

Today seven women will die of breast cancer. Amanda Vea Vea is not one of them.

Today seven women will die of breast cancer.

Seven women.

Amanda Vea Vea is NOT one of them.

She was due to die on October 31st 2012.

That’s the date she was given.

Over 18 months later she is glowing – inspiring women, making them laugh, cry and smile with her amazing attitude.

Amanda peppers our conversation liberally with words like ‘grateful’, ‘fortunate’, ‘fantastic’, ‘wonderful’ and ‘blessed’. Words many of us, myself included, hardly use once a week.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Mater Foundation. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.

Amanda says she feels lucky, positive and happy. When was the last time you felt that good?

Amanda does every day. But there is one thing you need to know about Amanda Vea Vea – she has terminal cancer.

Amanda with her niece and nephew.

It was March 2012 when Amanda noticed the lump on her breast. She had been working in the mines in the Bowen Basin. One morning she felt a lump in her breast and despite giving herself regular breast checks, she couldn’t believe what she found, couldn’t believe she hadn’t noticed it sooner. “I put my hand on a lump probably the size of a lime and I was shocked. Just shocked.”

Amanda received the results a couple of days later. It was a devastating diagnosis for the 38-year old mother of four. Two weeks later: things became grim. She was told that it was more than breast cancer. In fact the cancer had spread to her lungs, liver, spine, pelvis and bones.

Amanda’s cancer is stage four terminal.

She says initially she was in limbo. But after her treatment started at Mater Public Hospital in Brisbane things actually looked up for her. It was the help in particular from an organization called  Mater Chicks in Pink that helped her get through the last 18 months. Mater Chicks in Pink provide invaluable, practical support to women like Amanda, from providing mastectomy bras to counselling. This post was not meant to be ‘about’ the Mater Chicks in Pink – it was about Amanda’s story – but her success and vitality is so tied up in the organization that it is hard to separate the two.

“Being with the Mater is the difference between living with cancer and dying from cancer,” she says. Amanda feels she literally owes her life to the women from Chicks in Pink. Initially the ‘Chicks’ helped her learn the language to cope with the diagnosis. They provided art therapy for her kids and financial support. They even supplied her with her wigs.

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For Amanda this was the fun part. “I am black,” she says, “so we have frizzy curly hair and there is not much you can do with it.” With three wigs provided by the organization she says she is feeling gorgeous. ”I can have long black straight locks. I’ve always wanted that.” And she looks amazing!

From the support provided to Amanda through the ‘Chicks’ now Amanda is providing support to other women. “If I can assist people in any way I want to. I want to give people the information I have.”

“I will talk to anyone who needs help and wants to talk. Not just women with cancer but carers as well as I see the effects on my family having to care for me.”

For many fellow cancer patients she is a role model.

Amanda says it was difficult at first to connect with fellow patients.  She was dubious about becoming close to cancer sufferers, saying that their fragility was confronting, but she soon overcame that. “I will talk to anyone who needs help and wants to talk. Not just women with cancer but carers as well as I see the effects on my family having to care for me.”

For Amanda life is about so much more than her diagnosis. “I will not give cancer my number one priority. I won’t let it consume me.” She is determined to give back to the organisation that helped her so much.  Determined to spread the word about the incredible effect that the Chicks in Pink have had on her. “I have been so blessed to see the generosity in people, the love in people, how people interact with you.”

‘Everything happens for a reason’ was something Amanda said in the beginning of our conversation. By the end of the conversation I was convinced that Amanda’s ‘reason’ is to inspire other women – to spread her message of good fortune and a life rich with blessings.

“I have met some wonderful people. Sure I have shitty cancer. But I have been so blessed and fortunate along the way. I am lucky.”

The 23rd RACQ Insurance International Women’s Day Fun Run 2014. Celebrates the remarkable achievements of women and girls in Australia and across the world and it’s also an opportunity to help the one in eight Australian women who are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

Mater chicks in pink provides support to women with breast cancer when they need it most. And uses donations to invest in world-class research so that we can be one step closer to finding a cure.

Register online or donate to Mater chicks in pink www.womensdayfunrun.com.au

Event information

Date: Sunday 9 March 2014
Time: 6:00 am to 8:30 am
Where: Cultural Forecourt, South Bank, Brisbane (near the Wheel of Brisbane)

Register before January 31 for your chance to win a $5 000 RACQ travel voucher.
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