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Breast cancer opens another beautiful page of my life

My journey with breast cancer has been more than a year with two lumpectomies and an upcoming double mastectomy, but the first week after receiving my secondary breast cancer diagnosis I wanted to commit suicide many times.

Cancer was actually like a vandal to me.

I just turned 30 and I was excitedly waiting for a dream wedding with a man I loved after four years together. I had a job I loved as a lecturer at the Faculty of Journalism and Communication of Vietnam National University.

The cancer came and brought a mountain of fear and distress over my soul and my thoughts. I could not sleep at nights, kept crying and imagining awful things coming to myself and my loved ones. I did not fear cancer by itself. I was terrified of how cancer could affect my present and my future. My wedding could be cancelled and never happen. It was impossible for me to carry out my work plan. I worked so hard for almost 10 years but I earned just enough to live in Hanoi and support my family a bit. My very little savings were intended to use for the wedding and a family’s start up was now straight to cover some initial treatment cost. My family could not afford my treatments and I was sure I would become a burden for everyone who loved me.

 Ten years before my diagnosis, I spent all my spare time organising charity events that provided support, both physical and financial, for women and children living with cancer and HIV-AIDS. However, I did not know anything about breast cancer. Now I believed that I was going to die very soon, every beautiful thing I dreamed about and I was doing would terminate. Life was not fair to me at all, I was depressed and blamed myself for being diagnosed with cancer.

Fortunately, there was no suicide.

When the cancer squeezed me almost to the end, all my friends and co-workers, students, my former co-workers and many strangers gathered and raised more than $10,000 to indicate how they wanted to save my life.

All my family, my fiancé and his family gave me endless love and support. I got brilliant breast cancer care from Brisbane Mater hospital, Queensland Cancer Council and Breast Cancer Network Australia 

I was thrilled and empowered by stunning love from people around and what I had received. My thoughts were unlocked and I realised that thousands of Vietnamese women were much less fortunate than me; they were fighting cancer without support, without knowing anything about the disease and were very lonely. They got ready to die when being diagnosed with cancer and gave up in first steps of their journeys. Throughout my examination about how Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) started and what they had done, a fierce desire appeared in my heart that all Vietnamese women diagnosed with breast cancer would have an improved quality of life and would be strengthened to fight cancer to the best.

I established Breast Cancer Network Vietnam (BCNV) on 3 March 2013 in spite of a wide range of challenges about my own health, financial condition and barriers of Vietnamese culture and policy. BCNV is more than one year old now and has brought certain changes in terms of breast cancer support and awareness. You can see what BCNV has done at www.bcnv. org.vn/en.

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

Sadly, Thuong passed away as a result of her breast cancer on 17 March 2015