Every two years Marjorie stuck to her scheduled screening at The Wesley Breast Clinic like clockwork, knowing her risks as a 66-year-old woman. But at the end of last year, she thought all would be ok and put off her appointment for a couple of months. While holidaying in December, cancer was far from Marjorie’s mind, although her life-changing breast cancer diagnosis was only weeks away.
“I had no idea. I had four lobular tumours and one ductile. The lobular ones are not the typical lump that you think of. It was just through screening that it was picked up.”
After her diagnosis in February, Marjorie said things moved really quickly.
“When first diagnosed, you’re asked to choose a surgeon… you’re asked to choose an oncologist… you feel like you’re on a train you can’t get off. You have to be on this train, you don’t want to be on this train, but you can’t get off it because the consequences are dire.”
Marjorie said that’s where the support of the Breast Care Nurses at The Wesley was invaluable.
“I was told I needed a mastectomy…. and that’s how I met Jan (Breast Care Nurse). She was there before surgery, because naturally you feel a little bit anxious when you’re having a breast removed. It makes a big difference. I had the utmost confidence in all of the Breast Care Nurses.
“When I had emergency admissions or surgery, they’d come and see me in hospital. And at home, they call to see how you’re going. You might be going through a bad patch but you don’t want to bother someone, thinking ‘plenty of people would be in a worse situation than me’. But when they initiate the call you feel free to explain things.”
Marjorie said the Breast Care Nurses organised a free mastectomy bra and put her in touch with a wide range of resources, including The Wesley Choices Cancer Support Centre.
“Janine (at Choices) is an absolute wonder… I had never been depressed before so didn’t recognise the symptoms, but I fell in a psychological heap, so it was really important having these people supporting me.”
Marjorie said that while she’s been through a lot with radiation five days a week for five weeks, she also has a lot to look forward to.
“I’m feeling my normal cheery self again. My daughter recently had our first grandchild and my second grandchild is due in January... I’m quite the doting grandma!
“I’ve also been joining Wesley Choices online classes – relaxation on Mondays, and yoga on Wednesdays. The gentle yoga is adapted to the client; and I’ve really loved being able to join from my lounge room when I don’t feel well enough to go anywhere. My husband has been absolutely wonderful caring for me, so it’s nice to be able to do something independently.”
Marjorie says her experience would have been so much harder, had it not been for the Breast Care Nurses and Wesley Choices.
“They’ve made a huge difference in getting me through all of this and have been quite a source of comfort for my husband - knowing that there are people there who understand.
“I’d have no hesitation in going to The Wesley. When I had an infection, I had the surgeon, oncologist, infection specialist and radiation oncologist visiting me, and staying in touch with my GP who has been a great support. To have the specialists all in the one facility, all working together - I could not be getting better care than I am getting at The Wesley. I really genuinely feel that.”