How cancer brought us together
As breast cancer awareness month draws to a close we reflect back on Jodie’s own journey with breast cancer which started 14 years ago. Having someone to talk to who knows how you are feeling was so important for Jodie and is what fuelled the desire to start a local support group. In the corner of a local coffee shop, Jodie arranged to meet Susan, our very first support group participant who had also just been diagnosed with breast cancer. Together they shared and navigated their way along the long and bumpy road of cancer treatment, through the up’s and downs, and a bond was created that remains special until this day. Susan still attends the Pink Finss monthly support group meetings and plays a large role in welcoming new ladies into the group and uses her own experiences to help others.
- What do you remember most about your diagnosis 14 years ago?
I can remember this day like it was yesterday! To hear those words ‘you have breast cancer’ absolutely floored me. I was in shock, frightened for what the future held, extremely emotional and felt very overwhelmed. I remember thinking I cannot leave my children without their mum. That thought prompted me to take control and focus. I found myself in a new world of medical appointments, surgeries and treatments, I felt like I was on a rollercoaster and there was no getting off.
- What impact did that first meeting with Jodie have on you?
Jodie and I were introduced to each other through our beautician. We were two strangers meeting for a coffee brought together by cancer, by the end of our chat, we were no longer strangers and I knew I had made a much treasured friend. Jodie had a huge impact on me that day, I will be forever grateful to have shared our story with each other over coffee that morning. Going through this journey I have realised just how important it is to be able to talk to other women going through a similar journey. You can talk to family and friends but I feel being able to talk with someone on a journey like your own helps you to not feel so lonely, it gives you hope and helps you to feel stronger and gives you the courage to face your next challenge. Jodie commented to me that day that there were no support groups for women going through breast cancer in the Hawkesbury and how she really needed to talk to someone. I am so grateful I could be that someone for Jodie. She said she would love to start a support group to help women through this journey and wow … Jodie did just that, and so much more! I am so in awe and inspired by Jodie and all she and the Pink Finss team have achieved.
- The support groups have grown in size over the years, what have you learnt most about the women you have met through the support group meetings?
The women I have met through our support group have been from all walks of life and in different stages of their life journey, everyone from young mums to grandmothers. What I have learnt from these women is just how important it is to live in the present moment, to appreciate that the simple things in life really are the best things. Not to sweat the small stuff. To live and love wholeheartedly and to appreciate every day, it is a gift! Our cancer journeys have undoubtedly been one of the worst experiences of our lives but it opened doors to the best friendships, and for this I am sure we are all grateful.
- What are some of the struggles you still face on a regular basis?
I guess the thing I most struggle with is the fear of cancer returning. I have been dealt with some health problems following my cancer treatment. I have chemotherapy induced cardiomyopathy and will be on medication for the rest of my life and due to my treatment I now have osteoporosis, amongst a few other things thrown in there as well. I feel that my life has been split in two – life before cancer and life after cancer. I struggled for a long time accepting that my life was not ever going to be as I knew it but having said that, I am in a good place, and so very grateful for my life and all it holds.
- If you could give a recently diagnosed lady one bit of advice, what would it be?
Now is the time to put YOU first! My advice would be to open your heart to accepting help from family and friends, they are hurting too. I was overwhelmed by the support I received from so many. The love and kindness given to me and my family during my 18 months of treatment was accepted with so much gratitude. The one thing my cancer journey has done is open my eyes to just how much goodness is in this world and whilst you would never have chosen to be part of the Pink Finss Family, you will always be welcomed with open arms.