10KM run for a cure!
Friday 19th Mar
I’m Mandy and I am currently a cancer fighter...... soon to be cancer survivor. I will finish over 14 months of treatment on the 28th April 2021. I plan to run 10km on 27 April 2021, before finishing my final treatment.
I was diagnosed on 25 February 2020 at the age of 35 years old with an aggressive Stage 2 / Grade 3 breast cancer. A mosquito bite helped me discover the tumour I would never have found, as I felt great otherwise.
The diagnosis came as a "huge" shock to me, especially with no cancer history in my family and living a healthy and active lifestyle. What shocked me more was that 1 in 7 women develop breast cancer, and the average age is getting younger each year.
Being diagnosed with cancer is a complete roller coaster ride. I had my first big surgery less than 36 hrs after diagnosis. I then had a further 2 surgeries in the 2 weeks that followed, as well as many scans and appointments in between.
I then started chemotherapy on 19th March 2020, just days before the pandemic was declared in Australia. Doing chemotherapy treatment during the pandemic was very scary, because chemotherapy treatment compromises your immune system. I realised how compromised my immunity was when just before Christmas, I had my second mosquito bite of the year, which landed me in hospital for almost a week with a serious infection (please - no more mosquitos now!!).
Chemotherapy was physically really tough to go through. I lost over 10kg in the first 2 months alone and was very unwell. I was unable to take family support to treatment, due to the hospital restrictions during the pandemic. It was tough mentally to keep turning up to treatment alone, when I knew how unwell the chemo would make me feel for days after. It is a really unnatural thing in life to willingly turn up and do something that you know will beat you down after.
My treating nurses became my second family and cheer squad during my treatment sessions. I also received incredible support from my McGrath nurse and amazing medical team of doctors. I cannot be more blessed and grateful for the incredible medical and nursing support that got me through some very tough times.
There have been many challenges and losses on this journey. One of the hardest moments was losing my long curly hair just 2 weeks after starting my first chemo. I did not realise how important hair, eyebrows and eyelashes were for my outward identity. I had to accept that my outward appearances does not define who I am as a person. I had to accept that losing my hair was the short-term "trade-in" needed to survive long-term.
I have so far had 4 surgeries, 16 rounds of chemotherapy, 25 rounds of radiation and 16 rounds of targeted therapy. I have 1 more round of targeted therapy left.
I have been keeping as fit as possible during treatment and I've decided to run 10km before I finish cancer treatment. The goal was initially a personal goal I wanted to conquer. I wanted to prove to myself that if I can run 10km before finishing cancer treatment, I can conquer future challenges that life may throw my way.
However, after continuing to devastatingly meet other young women going through breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, I have decided to use my run to help raise funds for much-needed research to end this horrible disease and find a cause and cure once and for all.
Not everyone survives breast cancer or has the same treatment outcomes or options as I have had. The National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) are on a mission to have "zero deaths by 2030". This is something that I would love to support.
The targeted therapy I am currently receiving is all thanks to the work of the NBCF who pushed the research of this drug many years ago, enabling it to be on the PBS and a standard protocol for my exact type of breast cancer. This gives me an extremely positive prognosis when all is complete.
Not all breast cancers have such good outcomes, and I can only hope, pray and try and raise much needed funds to support my friends who are without targeted treatment options because of their type of breast cancer.
If 1 in 7 women are being diagnosed, I figure there are a lot more friends who will also one day be diagnosed and walk this very difficult journey.
Please do not feel obligated to support this cause financially. You can cheer my run on the 27th April 2021 from the sidelines. It is a cause that is close to my heart, and I will keep on training to run the 10km for a cure before my last treatment day!