When we hear that breast cancer has spread, it usually comes as a great shock. As you face this difficult time, we want you to know that there are many, many women living full and meaningful lives despite having breast cancer. A few women (and a man) have kindly offered their stories and messages in the hope that they will give you the inspiration to face your fears and to live your life with hope and determination.
You can click on a theme below. Each theme has two or three stories from women and men with breast cancer under it.
- Emotional wellbeing
- Family and friends
- Family history
- Diverse cultures
- Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people
- Men with breast cancer
- Young women and breast cancer
- Online support
- Physical wellbeing
- Rural and remote
- Metastatic breast cancer
- Life after breast cancer
I hope that this hard, scary and lonely journey will result in me beating breast cancer, but I wonder...could it also be a journey towards belonging?
Jacqueline shares her experience of being diagnosed with breast cancer after recently settling into life in Australia.
I definitely don’t want to depress newly diagnosed women but I wonder if there really is anyone else out there that feels like me?
Leanne questions the many "scars" she's received from her breast cancer diagnosis.
Family and friends
Motivation comes when the benefits, and there are many, are truly realised.
Jenny talks about the important role friends play after a breast cancer diagnosis.
I found the activity and maintaining the friendships I had forged helped considerably to remain positive and energised during the course of my treatment.
For Shirley, being involved in her local sporting club reaped rewards throughout her breast cancer experience. Read her story here.
Mum doesn’t see what she does as extraordinary; she’d say she’s just doing what anybody else would do, but I know that’s not true.
When Marianne was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was 1700 kilometres away from her family. A week later, her Mum arrived on her doorstop, ready to support her every step of the way. Read Marianne's story of unfailing love and support here.
Breast cancer has made me realise how much I am loved and supported. The disease has turned my life into a new life direction and I intimately know that it is a full and rewarding life.
Thuong shares how her own breast cancer diagnosis lead to a meaningful career change.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
BCNA held its first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Think Thank at the National Summit in March 2017. Forty-eight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women representing every state and territory made up the membership of the group.
The focus was for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by breast cancer to come together and share their lived experiences as survivors and to set the direction for further action in partnership with BCNA.
The women diagnosed with breast cancer as well as Aboriginal health professionals worked together to explore future actions. In the below video, women who participated in the Think Tank highlight the key messages of early detection and the outcomes of Aboriginal women with Breast Cancer.
Don’t use that word ‘shame’; knock it off your shoulder.
After going through breast cancer herself, Aunty Marg travels across Queensland advising Aboriginal women of the benefits of early detection and regular screening. Read her story here.
Men with breast cancer
Eighteen weeks of chemo and five weeks of radiotherapy is a life experience that allows you to understand what others are going through.
Lionel tells of his experience with breast cancer, as a male.
Young women with breast cancer
Having a strong reason to survive and protect gives the strongest reason to cope, stay positive and not allow cancer to win.
Julie tells of what motivated her as a young woman with breast cancer.
Work and breast cancer
Knowing my job was here was a key contributor to my recovery and return to a ‘normal’ life.
Dianne shares her experience of telling her new workplace of her cancer diagnosis.
While there was so much uncertainty over the forthcoming year, it was a great comfort to have assurance that my job was not in jeopardy.
Marianne tells of her supportive workplace that allowed her to keep working when she could, to allow her to take her mind off breast cancer during an uncertain time.
Through the tears I managed to get out, ‘Now you look like me!’
Filomena's tells of how her husband Mick 'stood tall' beside her throughout her breast cancer journey.
In those dark moments when things aren’t so bright and the mask is off, he’s the person who ‘cops it all’.
Helen speaks of her 'unsung hero' - her husband Roger - and his support for some big life decisions post-treatment.
At last there was someone who understood what I was going through, and could advise and empathise.
Diana's breast cancer diagnosis left her lonely and isolated, after recently moving from New Zealand to Australia. She shares her story of seeking support online.
I learnt to create a practical support network that I trusted and respected – that has now expanded to much more!
Diane kept her breast cancer very private, until she found networks that became important parts of her life. Read her story here.
I developed confidence and an inner belief, knowing that if I put my mind and energy towards something, that anything was possible – even standing on top of the world.
As an avid mountaineer, Sharon's world was turned upside down after a lump she found in her breast turned out to be cancer. Here, Sharon shares her journey of conquering breast cancer - and Everest.
I think of myself as 55 years young, instead of 55 years old.
Christine shares her experience of exercise following a breast cancer diagnosis.
I had become very aware of and passionate about the advantages of exercise in assisting in recovery from breast cancer and also the growing evidence around exercise reducing the risk of recurrence of breast cancer.
Bernadette tells how her breast cancer experience lead to a new passion.
The sight of no breast really dug deep inside. I suffered in silence many times.
Jan speaks about the many challenges that came following her masectomy.
I am now embracing life again, feeling younger and happier.
Maureen tells us how she has learnt to love herself again following a mastectomy.
When I wear a bra I still feel very much a woman and feel I can show off this part of my anatomy.
Sandra says she doesn't need breast reconstruction after her mastectomy. Read why here.
I contemplated the ‘vanity’ of such an operation.
Ruth's new-found love of health and fitness post-treatment made her reconsider breast reconstruction as a surgery that isn't 'just for younger women'. Read more here.
Somehow every time I get a big cuddle from the baby the traumas of post mastectomy and pregnancy fade into distant memory as I feel grateful for this new life.
Stephanie found her breast cancer diagnosis confronting, but not nearly as confronting as the body issues she had faced during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Read why here.
Rural and remote
This was the first time in all my years living in the outback that I felt isolated.
Anne-maree talks about the challenges of living in a remote area with breast cancer.
I think I am very lucky to have such wonderful people I can turn to at any time.
Carmen was supported through her breast cancer journey by family, friends and the Patient Transport Assistance Scheme (PATs). Find out more here.
Metastatic breast cancer
People say ‘we’re all going to die one day’ but most don’t frequently have it on their minds like people with cancer do.
After living with metastatic breast cancer for ten years, Margaret reflects on the things she is grateful for in times of negativity.
I think the key to feeling good about your changing body, after breast cancer, or even as a natural consequence of ageing, is to focus on what it can do, rather than what it looks like.
Meg's metastatic breast cancer diagnosis lead to a mastectomy. Here, she tells us about how her surgery has made her move and feel better than before.
There is definitely life after a diagnosis of metastatic disease.
Michele shares how her love of travel has continued after her metastatic breast cancer diagnosis.
Life after breast cancer
I never thought I would travel to Uganda and see the mountain gorillas, travel to Kenya and see wild animals on safari, climb the Sossusvlei dunes at sunrise in Namibia, see polar bears in the Norwegian Arctic and penguins and seals in the Antarctic and South Georgia – but I have, and I have done all this and more since I had my first brush with breast cancer in 1995.
Jill tells how breast cancer gave her permission to live her life on her own terms and "seize the day", despite challenges and obstacles.