Breast Cancer, my loss, my new direction!
How the passing of a loved one has inspired a new direction for me.
Welcome, thank you for stopping by! I am a 30 year old, mummy of 7 amazing children. No, I am not supermom, I cheated, my last pregnancy was twins ;-) so only 6 labours total. I have a wonderful partner who has stood by me through more than I need to elaborate on, and now, as I have my eye set on my target, he is once again encouraging me.
In April 2014, I spent 3 days in a hospital, sitting bedside, holding my Aunt's weak hand as her truly inspiring and heart-breaking battle with breast cancer was ending. Watching her pass has been one of the hardest things to witness in my life! This is the second family member I've lost in the last 5 years, both of them lived life to the fullest whilst fighting breast cancer.
After my Aunties funeral, where I was privileged to have the opportunity to speak about her as we laid her to rest, I knew, I wanted to continue campaigning, promoting awareness, helping fight the fight to find a cure for cancer.
I have included some facts about cancer, a how-to breast self-exam, and a tribute also to an amazing songstress- Chrissy Amphlett- who also lost her battle with breast cancer.
My heart breaks at the thought of all those holding a loved ones hand as their body loses the battle, those who gather to celebrate the life of someone they know who fought with all they had and those communities impacted by 'another' members passing.
I do hope to engage with YOU, even if you only do the '5 step Breast Self-Exam' once a month to keep your health in check! I am looking for all knowledge's, experiences, advice and feedback, so please leave me a message below :-)
PROMOTE, PREVENT, FIND A CURE! This is my dream.
Wedding Day photos
WHY am I dying for a Cure for Cancer?
The phone call that changed not only my life, but also, my beliefs, my thought processes & my love of others forever!
May 2011; another ordinary day in the office at work; I receive a call from my Aunty- 'Jackie'. The sight of her number appearing on my phone's screen always made me smile and feel warmed.
Unfortunately, she immediately began to cry down the phone to me 'Em, I have just walked out of the Cancer Care Centre and I've been diagnosed with Breast Cancer' I sat listening in horror, 'I just wanted to call and tell you to make sure that you get checked out!'
~This was and still is the most powerful phone call of my life. From this; I have lost loved ones, built incredible relationships, joined the “Cure” army of fundraisers, ran for 'Relay for Life', taught deeper resilience in my children and in myself, grown stronger, helped raise awareness, held tight to those fighting their cancer battle, supported those families who’ve lost loved ones and witnessed the passing of 2 amazing women in my life who I am very proud to call my family.
From that moment, treatment and fundraising went hand in hand in her daily life.
From Pink Ribbon days where we decorated a town in the Blue Mountains Pink for the day to help raise awareness, Mother’s Day 2013; a warming entourage turned out in specially printed ‘JACKIE’S SUPPORT TEAM’ shirts, supporting her battle AND her fundraising efforts, Dry July emphasis, a ‘Daggy Disco’- with such classics as ‘Staying Alive’ being key, Garden Parties showcasing massages, manicures, delectable cakes and ‘English Breakfast’ cups of tea, and much more.
My Aunty gave to her dying day- 27th April, 2014. Even then; her wishes at her funeral was for people to donate to the local team of Cancer Care nurses in lieu of flowers.
So whilst she always praised others, she selflessly gave all she had.
Now as I try to piece my broken heart back together for my 7 children & my ever loving, supportive husband, I am looking for a way to make a difference, keep her memory strong and to try to pick up where she left off.
I am determined to raise awareness, shine the light on the importance of early detection, build stronger communities and families that ‘check’ on each other, remind each other to be vigilant with their health, get funding to those working so hard to find a cure and finally, make Cancer history!
Recounting her motto ‘get on with it’ to myself repeatedly along with ‘hold tight, help fight, never give up, never let go’ I am compelled to do my best!
The above mentioned were just the last 3 years of her life. Prior to her diagnosis in June 2011, Jackie was always caring of others, gave selflessly, encouraged strongly, spoke kindly and loved unconditionally! The day of her passing, the world did become a worse off place. There is no one I know who could cater to all my needs at every point in my life. Every tear-filled phone call I made to her always had a warm comforting reception for me.
It is with sadness that Jackie was not diagnosed and treated much sooner; there was no hope of surgery, just treatment to help reduce the cancer size. I have sat and thought constantly 'what if'. But, it makes no difference. I can only hope that I can make a difference in the lives of others now; raising awareness, teaching about prevention, and helping raise funds for the research to find a cure.
It may seem helpless, it may not mean anything to you as an individual, and you may well be one of the very few lucky ones out there who has not been effected by cancer in any way shape or form.
However, as sure as you need you need air to breath, you also need to think of how cancer COULD affect you; AND ask yourself what contribution you could make to help find a cure! Maybe $1, maybe ask a friend or relative have they ‘checked themselves’ recently, hand out awareness flyers at your work. Google ‘Cancer advocates near me (insert your city and state here)’ and ask how you can help them. F there doesn’t seem to be anything in your community, start something!
Even telling friends about the below ‘How-To; Breast Self-Exam’ IS contributing. There are truly so many things ('get involved' below) that you could do to help find a cure!
Cancer has an effect on YOUR community!
How many people do you think will be diagnosed??
1 in 3 women are diagnosed with Cancer before the age of 85! – Imagine 1/3 of all the women you know being diagnosed with Cancer!
ALSO, 1in 2 men are diagnosed with Cancer before the age of 85! Can you imagine 1/2 the men you know being diagnosed with Cancer?
By understanding the causes of cancer, and taking steps to reduce our risks, we can reduce the number of cases diagnosed.
Over 100,000 Australian’s are diagnosed with Cancer each year.
With prostate cancer the most common in Australia, there are 19,403 diagnosed in year – 17.9% of all cancers diagnosed. Meaning that 7.4% of all cancer deaths are from prostate cancer. 85.3% survive 5 years.
Bowel Cancer diagnosis’s are 14,234 per year equating to 13.1% of all Cancer diagnoses; 10.1% of all Cancer deaths with only 61.8% surviving 5 years. The second most common Cancer in Australia- found in men and women.
The third highest diagnosed cancer is Breast Cancer with 12,670 diagnosed per year (11.7% of all Cancer diagnoses’) contributing to 6.8% of all cancer deaths with a more positive 87.8% surviving 5years. While it is mainly common in women, men have been diagnosed with it too.
Melanoma sees 10,342 diagnosed per year which is 9.5% of all cancer diagnoses’. More attractive statics of 3.2% of all cancer deaths, with 91.6% surviving 5 years. This is Australia’s 4th most common cancer and it affects men & women of ALL AGES~ SLIP, SLOP, SLAP!
Australia’s most aggressive cancer is of the Lungs- 9,703 diagnosed per year, contributing to 9% of all cancers diagnosed and a staggering 19.1% of all cancer deaths. Happily, from these statistics provided by the Cancer Council NSW; I know that we can each make a difference!
With only 30% of all cancers actually preventable; any pillar of prevention is worth our attention. The lessons we have learnt whilst growing up, are actually the basis of cancer prevention too:
for example –Don’t smoke –
Protect your skin from the sun –
Maintain a healthy weight and diet –
Maintain a regular exercise plan – and
Alcohol should only be in moderation.
Small changes in our daily lives WILL make a big difference to our risk of being diagnosed with cancer- this will change the ‘1/3 of women we know and Â½ the men we know’ stats.
Cutting out harmful habits or becoming more active is a great place to start. It is essential that you also become more aware of your body! Take notice of changes, look out for lumps, weight loss or gain that is unexplainable, a cold that you just can’t get rid of. Above all else, do not assume ‘it won’t happen to me’.
With knowledge gain thus far, there are ‘Age Appropriate’ screenings you can discuss with your regular Dr- they are for Cervical, Breast, Prostate and Bowel Cancer.
Having a commitment to cancer prevention and early detection and diagnosis should be important to us all. Don’t put your health on hold, or ‘that test’.
I PROMISE YOU; there is NO test that is more uncomfortable or painful than dying from cancer!
HEALTHIER CHOICES - You've seen the facts of the main health risks, what will you cut out?
What will you cut out?
Promoting Healthier, Cost Effective Living
The below is a guide to what breast routines are appropriate for your age group.
Age; 20+.............. Monthly Breast Self-Exams should be done.
Age; 20-40 .......... Monthly Breast Self-Exams PLUS a yearly clinical Breast Examination performed by your Health Care Professional.
Age; 35-40 ......... A baseline Mammogram as a comparison for future Mammograms
Age; 40 .............. Monthly Breast Self-Exam PLUS a yearly clinical Breast Examination performed by your Health Care Professional PLUS 1-2 yearly Mammogram.
Age; 50+ ........... Monthly Breast Self-Exam PLUS a yearly clinical Breast Examination performed by your Health Care Professional PLUS Yearly Mammograms.
The Breast Self-Exam is recommended to be performed on the same day every month if possible. The reason for this, is that our breast tissue does go through normal changes as our body progresses through our menstrual cycles.
These changes can make you uncertain of changes to your breast. If you are out of touch with your breast- i.e., you aren't 100% sure what 'normal' is for you, t is recommended that you see your Health Care Professional and have a clinical exam done, then, you can repeat the exam the same day to build your awareness of your body.
Mark it on the calendar for 1 months' time to make sure you remember when it needs to be done.
Also; this may feel daunting to begin with, but, I encourage you to take your time, keep consistent and persistent! It WILL soon become second nature to you.
That is an accomplishment!!
Breast Self-Exam- How-To in 5 steps - This should be done monthly! If you experience any changes in your breasts, you should contact your doctor immediately.
This step by step guide shows you how to conduct a self examination to check for changes in your breasts.
I do hope that you make the time for this once a month (if you don't already) and please also promote its importance to your friends and family. Ask them if they have been examined, do they do a monthly self- exam?
IF someone you know hasn't had an examination, encourage them too, follow-up with them to see how they went and most of; provide your encouragement and support where you can.
In all the research I have done, there are a few points I need to make to ensure I can inform you thoroughly.
Firstly, there are 3 key action points relating to breast health;
Breast Self-Examination- to be done monthly to help you know what is normal for your body and if anything does change, assists in early detection. NOTE- a monthly self-exam doesn't mean that you should forget about clinical breast exams or mammograms!
Secondly, a clinical examination performed by your healthcare provider.
Thirdly, a mammogram.
I have also found a helpful chart to keep in mind of what ages and which breast routines are advisable- see 'BREAST ROUTINE CHART BELOW'
If you are over 40 you are at a higher risk of this disease and you should have an annual mammogram and physical exam by a doctor.
Furthermore, if you have a family history of ANY cancer, it is best to discuss this with your Health Care Professional, they'll be able to discuss with you the best course of action and any alternative tests to be conducted - for example, an ultrasound.
Below, I have linked the Liv'Aid Breast Self-Exam tool- an effective, cost effective, reusable tool to assist you in conducting a self-exam.
NOTE- THE EARLIER BREAST CANCER IS FOUND AND DIAGNOSED, THE BETTER YOUR CHANCES ARE OF BEATING IT!!
Time required: 15-20mins
- A mirror is generally all you will need
- OPTIONAL- Liv-Aid Breast Exam Tool
1. Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips.
Here's what you should look for:
~Breasts that are their usual size, shape, and colour ~Breasts that are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling
If you see any of the following changes, bring them to your doctor's attention
~Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin ~A nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out)~Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling
2. Now, raise your arms and look for the same changes
3. While you're at the mirror, look for any signs of fluid coming out of one or both nipples (this could be a watery, milky, or yellow fluid or blood).
4. Next, feel your breasts while lying down, using your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast.
Use a firm, smooth touch with the first few finger pads of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together. Use a circular motion, about the size of a 20cent piece.
Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side — from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage.
Follow a pattern to be sure that you cover the whole breast. You can begin at the nipple, moving in larger and larger circles until you reach the outer edge of the breast.
You can also move your fingers up and down vertically, in rows, as if you were mowing a lawn. This up-and-down approach seems to work best for most women.
Be sure to feel all the tissue from the front to the back of your breasts;
-For the skin and tissue just beneath, use light pressure
-Use medium pressure for tissue in the middle of your breasts
- Use firm pressure for the deep tissue in the back. When you've reached the deep tissue, you should be able to feel down to your ribcage.
5. Finally, feel your breasts while you are standing or sitting.
Many women find that the easiest way to feel their breasts is when their skin is wet and slippery, so they like to do this step in the shower.
Cover your entire breast, using the same hand movements described in step 4.
CHRISSY AMPHLETTClick thumbnail to view full-size
Chrissy Amphlett Legacy- - #itouchmyself project to create awareness from the Cancer Council NSW webite
On the 21st April, 2013, eminent Australian rock legend Chrissy Amphlett, of the infamous band The Divinyls, passed away at the age of 53 following her battle with breast cancer. Chrissy was passionate about spreading awareness around the importance of early detection of breast cancer and wanted her legacy to help save the lives of women.
As a tribute, Chrissy's family and friends, her husband Charley Drayton, fellow songwriters, Cancer Council NSW and supporters from around the globe have come together to make sure Chrissy's legacy lives on to remind women to be in touch with their bodies, and if something's not right, see their doctor.
Visit itouchmyself.org and watch 10 of Australia's leading female artists reincarnate Chrissy Amphlett's anthem.
The new version of 'I Touch Myself' was recorded at the infamous Studios 301, Australia's oldest and largest recording studio. The track was arranged and produced by Clive Young who wrote and recorded many songs with Chrissy over the years.
All proceeds go towards Cancer Council NSW .
Chrissy envisioned her iconic song, I Touch Myself, would one day become an anthem for women's health around the world, reminding women to get to know their breasts, know what is normal for them and to participate in breast screening if they're in the right age range.
I Touch Myself - Take the time to listen well to these lyrics :-)
Remade in memory of Chrissy Amphlett's fight against breast cancer and her determination that THIS should be THE Breast Cancer song.
The message in this song is very strong.
Think for a moment, this isn't made for a loved one, it is made, for a woman, keeping in check with her body :-)
6 Unique ways you can Get Involved too
The folowing 6 points are not in any particular order than how I wrote the out as they came to mind. They are each unque in ther own way, catering for a lot of different minded individuals abilities, opportunties or circumstances to get involved.
#1. Regular Giving- providing your ongoing support.
Self explanatory enough, however, do you know how easy it can be? There are many great ways you can set up a regular donation.
Payroll Team- speak with your employers payroll team to check if there is a form needed to be filled out. You chose the amount you want deducted ($5, $20, $50) from your salary and how often (weekly, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly).
Direct Donation- by contacting the organisation you would like to support, you can set up periodical payments directly with them. Alternatively, you can utilise the DONATE NOW button often found on organisation's websites where you can set up when convenient for you.
#2. Corporate Fundraising. Events at work
This is a great way to promote team building as well as raise morale! Ideas to get you started;
Plain Clothes Friday - if a plain clothes day (Fridays are popular) is appropriate in your workplace, it could be a continued weekly event. Your workplace may like to request a gold coin* donation on the first Friday of each month. This creates a relaxed feel each Friday AND asking for a donation once a month is not too big a request from colleagues. You'll soon see how quickly the small contributions do add up.
Communal Lunches - does your workplace ever host a lunch for all the staff, maybe at Easter or Christmas time? In the memo regarding the upcoming lunch, you can add a line letting staff know there will be a donation tin for contributions for your chosen organisation. Again, a gold coin donation could be the request- every $1 counts
#3. In Celebration - Taking place of the gifts you may normally bring to an event!
Birthdays - My Uncle had a huge 50th birthday party in a community hall he hired out, he paid for catering and staff, a band, an open bar and the staff to operate it; in return all invited were asked to make a donation to the organisation he chose instead of giving him a gift. =what do you get someone who has everything???=
This idea can be adapted to anniversaries, weddings and the likes.
Mothers Day - a few years back, I heard of this idea
There are charities here in Australia that design beautiful mothers day cards. You buy the card for the amount you'd like to donate to that charity; $20 card, $50 etc. Inside the card, it reads; In honour of all women on mothers day, we've made a donation to "chosen charity" on your behalf" or something along those lines anyway :-)
#4. Volunteering - you may have thought about this one already. It seems that any event held these days for a good cause is only made possible by the dedication and support of all the volunteers who did their all to make it happen. So you can be sure; if there is an event coming up, a volunteer or two will always be welcomed. REWARDING EXPERIENCE ALERT! Furthermore, when people see you volunteering and the fulfilment you get, they too will want to do more to help too.
Sporting Events/ Fundraising Campaigns/ Awareness Days are all volunteer fuelled- when my Aunty turned her local shopping centre pink to raise awareness, it was all hands on deck, even my then 8,7,5 &4 year old girls had a role to play.
#5. A Cup of Tea/Coffee for cancer - how many of you meet with a friend or a group of friends to have a cuppa and catch-up? I'm sure I am not the only one. This idea is brilliant too for community groups, seniors etc.
This brings people together, everyone has a great time together doing what they love and donations put 'in the tin' from the morning/ afternoon WILL be appreciated by the organisation that will receive it.
#6. In Memory - After the loss of a loved one.
Directly to chosen organisation- This is a great way to honour the memory of the family member or friend that has passed away.
Funeral Service - Instead of flowers, it is becoming common place in recent years that the family of the deceased request a donation to be made to a charity of their choice on the day instead of buying flowers to lay. At my Aunties funeral last week, the request for those attending the funeral was to donate to the local Cancer Care Nurses.
Online Memorial/ Tribute page - This s a great way to share memories of a loved one who has passed from cancer. I had a Facebook group called the 'Jackie Paris fans and support network' I started it after a visit to my Aunty where she asked me to 'never give up, never let go, keep fighting, keep holding tight'- the Facebook group seemed like the way to go as we have family in various countries. This provided a medium for us all to keep in contact, send Jackie messages of encouragement and love and to be able to keep family and friends near and far up to date with her fight. Unfortunately, I had to post to the group to notify of her passing, a post I deeply wished would never have to be written. I have since renamed the group 'The Jackie Paris Living Legacy' in memory of her life, lived to the full.
There are LOADS more ways to get involved. I'd love to hear yours too.
*In Australia- Gold coins are $1 & $2 coins.
I dream of a cure for cancer. I dream that it will be found before the end of my life.
Starting on this journey forward after losing someone who meant so much to me is a commitment I am making for the rest of my life, just as she dedicated for the remaining of her life.
Because I am a mummy of 7 young children and have recently been diagnosed with Cervical cancer; I want to be able to make the most impact I can to help find a cure.
With this all said; I am in need of guidance, tips, success stories, ANYTHING. If you have any assistance or lessons learnt you would like to share with me, I would love to hear from you.
Are you aware of fundraising ideas that different?
Successful campaigning methods that have helped your community?
Has a plan to raise awareness been a great hit?
How have people in your community welcomed the thought of prevention is better than cure?