I was 33 years old, happily married with 2 small children (aged 3 and 5 years) when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had no family history of breast cancer and no visible lumps in my breasts which made it all the more surprising when I received the diagnosis. This happened during my annual health check up with my GP and after all of the usual tests, including a breast exam, my doctor decided to send me for an ultrasound. There was no reason for this, it was purely an extra precaution my doctor decided to take and I can honestly say that her decision that day saved my life.
Moving forward my treatment consisted of a lumpectomy, 9 months of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and reconstruction. There are no words to describe how terrifying this all was and the way it makes you feel physically, emotionally and mentally. The lowest point came when I lost my hair and my biggest challenge was managing my emotions around my small children and knowing what to say to them at different stages of my treatment. There were days when I was so sick that I couldn’t get out of bed but I just made sure I was open and honest with my kids at all times.
I was extremely fortunate to have a very supportive family and friendship network. I was also self employed with income protection which meant I had financial stability and that relieved a lot of the pressure financially for our family. But as great as it was to have all of this support I couldn’t help but feel alone because I didn’t have anyone to talk to who knew exactly what I was going through. It was at this point I knew that when my treatment was over I needed to set up a network for local ladies on the same journey.
A very big part of my cancer journey was exercising. When I was having my chemotherapy I noticed a poster on the wall promoting Tri Pink which is an all women’s triathlon series raising money for cancer research. I joined a gym and set myself a goal to compete in a 100m swim, a 3km ride and a 1km run and a group of my friends decided to join with me too. Having something to focus on really helped me physically and mentally and when I completed the triathlon, I felt amazing. The next year there were 40 of my friends joining me so we decided to start training on a regular basis at Finss Swim School in Ebenezer. This was where the name Pink Finss came from.
Over the following years my love of triathlon grew and I have competed in many events including marathons. I can honestly say that exercise has gotten me through and continues to provide me with peace of mind on a daily basis.
Now in 2022 I am 15 years cancer free. What people don’t realise though is that once you have had a cancer diagnosis you are never free of the disease. Every time you have a check up your mind immediately thinks the worst and the fear of reoccurrence is real. That is why having the ongoing support of others who know how you feel is so important.
In 2022 the Pink Finss is celebrating 12 years and I can honestly say the reason the Pink Finss has grown and evolved over the years is because of the wonderful Hawkesbury community. What makes the Pink Finss unique is our ability to connect not only with the people who need help but also with our community and I truly believe you couldn’t do what we do anywhere else other than in the Hawkesbury. What we have created is truly something unique and so special.