I’m Laurella and I am 74 years old. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. Luckily it was detected on a routine mammogram. It was extremely important to me to be proactive about my health as I was adopted which resulted in me having no family medical history.
I was in complete shock and denial at the diagnosis and needed time for it to sink in as did my husband and daughter. It then became a bit of a merry go round of tests and going to Melbourne for surgery resulting in a right mastectomy. Post-surgical recovery I commenced chemotherapy at Shepparton as Kyabram did not have a day unit yet. Chemotherapy left me exhausted at times, but I learnt how to manage this so that I could still attend events important to me.
Unfortunately, I received no counselling prior to surgery and feel that that service is important and now know that most surgeons offer this service. So, I adopted a very positive attitude and thought just get on with it as “s**t happens”. One thing I was really concerned about was the thought of losing my hair so I organized my hairdresser to shave it off as soon as it started falling out. Through trial and error, I found I preferred wearing hats to a wig.
I have faced challenges with one being not knowing my family history and constantly be asked by different health professionals to recite it. At times I felt like tattooing it on my forehead that I have no history as I was adopted. However, I managed to work my way through each challenge as I willed myself to cope and had wonderful people supporting me. I also continued to participate as much as possible in my interests and passions such as being a very active member of my local CFA and continued to enjoy my life even though my circumstances had changed.
Once all my treatments had been completed, life resumed with me having a renewed self-belief that I can cope with anything. I still have concerns of recurrence in my left breast so regularly do my self-breast examination.
I believe a positive attitude in life is so important especially when facing challenging times. Some days were tough, and I was also worried about how my family and friends were coping. My way of coping was to have a positive attitude, sheer will power and to face each challenge head on. I believed I could do it especially with the support of my family, friends and health professionals. I found an inner strength to cope and believe somehow, we all do when we need to.
Throughout my journey I really wished I had knowledge of my family history, so I encourage everyone to be aware of theirs. Also be proactive regarding your health. Do regular breast self-examinations, have a mammogram and if something feels wrong don’t delay going to your GP. Trust your gut and please don’t let fear stop you.
Thanks for taking the time to read a snippet of my story.