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Upfront About Breast Cancer

Episode 39: In conversation with Shananne and Kate: Under 40 and experiencing breast cancer

We recommend that listeners exercise self-care when listening to this podcast, as some may find the content upsetting.

Let’s be Upfront about being a young woman and experiencing a breast cancer diagnosis. Breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in young women in Australia and it’s estimated nearly 1,000 young women will be diagnosed each year, meaning 3 women under 40 years old will be diagnosed every day.

Young women with breast cancer face a unique set of practical, physical and emotional challenges including premature menopause, sexuality and fertility issues, caring for young children, financial and career issues.

Joining us for this In Conversation episode is Shananne and Kate. Kate was diagnosed with stage 3 triple negative breast cancer when she was 26 years old and 28 weeks pregnant. Shananne was diagnosed with hormone receptor positive breast cancer in 2018 when she was 37 years old and pregnant with her third child.

During this candid conversation between Shananne and Kate we’ll hear about their reaction on being told they had breast cancer, the treatment they received, the challenges they faced and continue to face, coping strategies they used and advice they have for other young women.

This podcast was recorded in February 2022.


Upfront About Breast Cancer is a production of Breast Cancer Network Australia. Our theme music is by the late Tara Simmons, and this episode is proudly brought to you by Sussan.

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Kellie Curtain Upfront is a podcast that addresses many questions you want to know about a breast cancer diagnosis but were too afraid to ask. Or perhaps simply forgot to ask. We talked to those with lived experience as well as health professionals. This episode has been produced with thanks to BCNAs partner Sussan. It's a conversation between two young women and their breast cancer diagnosis. Breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in young women in Australia. Around three women under 40 years old will be diagnosed every day, and they face a unique set of practical, physical and emotional challenges. Joining us for this in conversation episode is Kate and Shananne. Kate was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in 2018, when she was 26 years old and 28 weeks pregnant. Shananne was diagnosed with hormone receptor positive breast cancer, also in 2018, when she was 37 years old and pregnant with her third child. A reminder that Upfront about breast cancer is an unscripted conversation. The topics discussed are not intended to replace medical advice or necessarily represent the full spectrum of experience or clinical option. Please exercise self-care when listening, as the content may be triggering or upsetting for some. It's a pleasure to introduce Kate and Shananne.

Shananne: Hi Kate, how are you?

Kate: Hi, Shananne, I'm good. How are you? Yeah, I'm good.

Shananne: Thank you. It's nice to have a chat with you this morning about our experience. I know that our cancers were the same, but they were different types. And so it is a little bit different the experience that you go through when you have different types of cancer. And I think a lot of people don't know that breast cancer isn't just one type of cancer that it is. There's lots of different cancers, so you do have different treatments. We were both pregnant at the time, so we both got our beautiful babies, which helped us get through that hard time, which was really good as well. So I'll just tell you a little bit about myself and what happened with me when I had my diagnosis. Today I am 41 years old and my cancer was hormone receptor positive breast cancer. I was 37 when I was diagnosed. When I found out that I had cancer, I was pregnant and I was actually in my second trimester before I was pregnant with my little girl, Willow. We had a little boy Noah in our home and he was only 11 months old and I was just having a little cuddle in bed with him one morning and I felt a little bit sore on my breast. And then so when we went and had my obstetrician appointment, it was literally just a passing remark that I made to her and I said to her, Noah pushed on the side of my breast, and it felt a little bit sore. Do you think that might be a blocked milk ducts? And she said, Well, let's just have an ultrasound and check it. I had the ultrasound when I went and had the ultrasound looked asked my surgeon, and she said, I think that we should just have a core biopsy just to double check. Most of the time, they're usually benign and we just keep an eye on them. But let's just have a check and see if there's anything that like, we need to have a look at more. So I had the biopsy. It was quite quick. The whole start of the process was actually quite quick. When I went back to get my results, my mum came with me. I thought that I was just going to go in there and she would just say, no, everything's fine and I'll just go on with my pregnancy. Like, it never actually occurred to me that I had cancer because I did not feel unwell at all, and I was having a really good pregnancy. So when I went in there, she kind of slipped the box of tissues across the table as she said, I'm sorry, your results show that you have breast cancer. I couldn't actually fathom what she was saying. It was hard to see my mum. She was really devastated and then we had a little chat. She had this plan booked in for me straight away that I was going to go straight into hospital and I was worried about being pregnant and would my baby be okay. And she said that because I was actually in my second trimester, that my baby would be okay. I think it was on a Wednesday that I got the results and then on the Monday I was going into the hospital and it was the same hospital that I'd actually delivered my son Noah at. All right. And as I went into the hospital, there was a lady and she came up to me and she had a pink blouse on. She asked me, she said, Oh, is your name Shananne? And I said, Yes, that was my name. And she said that her name was Jo and she was a McGrath breast care nurse. She gave me a big hug. And she just radiated so much love and warmth. She said, I'm going to stay with you while you have your stay at the hospital and I'm going to look after you with the nurses. It was at that time that she gave me the Breast Cancer Network Australia kit.

Kate: Yes, I got the same.

Shananne: It had so much information in it and it was really heavy and I was like, Oh my gosh, this is like an encyclopedia. Throughout my stay are kind of like, I opened it and I had a look and then I had a cry, and then I had another look and then I had to cry. And when I had my hospital stay, they did a central node biopsy and they injected the I think it's a radioactive solution into the nipple. They did that to check that the lymph nodes were clear. So I had that along with my surgery, and then we waited about 10 days for it to come back. And I recovered quite well from the surgery and my baby was she was okay as well. And then I got the results back from the surgery and I had clear margins and no lymph node involvement.

Kate: And that's good news.

Shananne: I had prepared myself for like the hamburger with the lot that I was going in and whatever I was going for, I was going to just go for it. Give me whatever you need to give me. Once you get past the kind of shock for me, I was like, I'm going to do whatever it takes because I just want to get myself better for my kids. We decided that we would have some genetic testing done on the cancer to see if I would need chemo. I had had had my surgery and then for four months, I just had monitoring. And then once Willow was born, Jo, who was my McGrath breast cancer nurse, she was also a midwife as well as being a nurse, and she came into my delivery room. It was probably one of the best days of my life to have her there with me because she was there for the hardest day and the best day and all of the bits in between. And she has looked after so many women. There is just this love that radiates out of her. She's just amazing. So we had Willow and then the very next morning I started my active treatments again. And then the day that we left the hospital, I started radiation and hormone therapy. How was your experience when you first found out?

Kate: Mine was a little bit different. I actually found the lumps at 18 weeks pregnant that went to my GP and I was lactating from that side only as well. And being my first pregnancy, I was unsure of what was normal. I went to my GP and said I found those two lumps in there a little bit about 10cent size based lumps. And she told me, I don't know. You'll be fine, you'll be fine. It's just it's blocked milk ducts. So she told me just to apply heat and massage and everything will be fine. And yeah, being my first pregnancy, I just assumed, you know that that was it. But then they grew and grew and grew, and I kept going back to her and saying, they're getting bigger. Nothing is happening. Nothing is helping them. And then we actually were doing a baby course at the hospital and there was a fill-in midwife that night and her name was Neesha. And I think my life to Neesha because she I was talking to her and again, I just said it in a passing comment to like, Oh, there's this side. I just can't work out what's happening. The milk, I'm lactating and they had lumps are getting bigger and nothing's working. And she said, What lumps? And I said, oh, I've got two lumps here. By this stage, they're about 50 cent piece size. And she said, that's not normal. You need to go back to your GP and request an ultrasound. So I did. I went back and my GP at the time was. She wasn't very supportive. She just believes that they were blocked milk ducks. So I sort of had to push a little bit to get an ultrasound. And then it came back a couple of days later and they said, no, we need to send you for a core biopsy. So I went for a biopsy and because I was lactating on that side, it took a very long time to heal because of the liquid and gross that was coming out of the wounds. And then I got a call one afternoon around 4pm, and it was the GP, the nurse, the GP office. And she said to me, oh, look, you need to come in tomorrow and bring someone with you. And obviously, that's so traumatic to hear that. So we didn't sleep very well that night. And then I was the same. I didn't really think breast cancer at all. So then the GP, who actually was denying me the ultrasound was the one to diagnose me with breast cancer. So she , once I had my diagnosis. I was referred to the hospital and I got a breast care nurse Donna. She's amazing. And then I underwent all of my testing. I was 28 weeks, by this time, so 10 weeks had passed since I first found the lumps. And by this stage, the lumps had joined and they were actually it was actually a tumor of seven centimeters by six centimeters and you could see it under my skin. Yes. So I actually was originally told will have the baby at 39-40 weeks naturally and then will start treatment. So my husband is a police officer. He was called down to work at the Commonwealth Games at the time. And so he left. And then that afternoon I had an oncology appointment and the oncologist at the hospital said to me, look, we need to get started on this. Otherwise, it's going to be stage four. It's already stage three. So he said this is a Thursday afternoon, and he said, How would you feel having your baby on Monday at 32 weeks and one day?

Shananne: Wow.

Kate: So yeah, so my husband quickly came back to Rockhampton where we live, and my mum flew up as well, and we spent that weekend just preparing ourselves to have such a premie baby. Quinn, my son was born, he was healthy and he spent about five weeks in the NICU. I actually started my chemotherapy a week after giving birth to him. So they were looking at because he was my first and because I was so young. twenty six years old, they were looking at the fertility options for me to have another baby in the future, but because everything was so rushed to get started and get know, baby out and  start chemotherapy. It just didn't seem right to be waiting, I'd have to wait another three weeks for them to harvest the eggs and then that. So it just didn't seem right at the time to me to do that. So I started chemotherapy a week later. I had six months of chemotherapy. During that time, we actually moved from Rockhampton to Brisbane to be with my mum, and she took some time off leave once Quinn was released from the NICU to help support us and to help me with my appointments and everything. My husband at the time as well, received a bit of a promotion at work and that required him to work for six months in Brisbane. So he was able to visit us on the weekends and every now and then through the week. But yeah, it was my mum that was there for the treatments. Yeah. And looking after Quinn as well. Some of the challenges I found being diagnosed quite young is I was still working at the time, so I had to rearrange my maternity leave. And so that was a bit of a challenge for me at first to try and do all of that, as well as all of the first original appointments with. They're saying all these medical terms and we, we don't have cancer in our family. I'm the first to have cancer in the family, so you really don't know what it's like until you see. Lots of decisions were being made very quickly, very overwhelming the hospital procedures. And, you know, I hadn't been in hospital ever since, you know, since being born. So even that was a little bit overwhelming. And they also put me into medically induced menopause as well to attempt to save my eggs. And so even that brought along challenges.

Shananne: Did you end up getting any egg retrievals done later down the track? Have you been able to have any fertility preservation done now that you kind of a little bit further along?

Kate: No, I didn't do any fertility preservation, but I am actually pregnant now with, with our second child. Thank you. I was very blessed it. It happened naturally and everything was good there. So I'm thirty two weeks now with the baby girl on the way. So it worked out in the end. For me, going into menopause, I guess saved my eggs as much as they could from the chemotherapy. So, yeah, but it was a bit daunting at the time being told, you know, we're not sure what's going to happen and you may never be able to have any more children.

Shananne: Yeah, breathing thing in its own, isn't it? When they say to you because you have this idea in your head as an adult, what you want your life to be and then when it gets taken away, you kind of have to rewrite this new loss. So yourself and it's not easy to do that. And I think that lots of people, when they're looking from the outside in, you're you, you kind of have to quickly move on to the next thing and the next thing. You don't get the opportunity to kind of grieve or process anything that's kind of lost. You just keep going. So it's so great that even though you didn't get the chance to get the egg retrieval, now you're able to have a baby because it's kind of like that light at the end of the tunnel that you got.

Kate: Absolutely. What about you? What did you find challenging being diagnosed so young?

Shananne: I found it hard for fertility because I did want to have another baby, although Willow was our second baby. I would have liked to have had another baby, and it is hard to say goodbye to those things and to let them go because you feel like you have so much taken away with the cancer diagnosis. And I also found the effect on my son, Noah, as well. It was hard for him to have a mum that was unwell. He struggled to adjust to having an unwell mum. I was always going to appointments. He was being looked after constantly by members of our family and he got separation anxiety and for a period of time, he stopped talking. Mm-Hmm. He just stopped talking altogether. And so we all rallied around him and I got lots of support for him. And that was the way that he coped with the change in his little world was that he just stopped talking. That was devastating for me to say that, because I thought that was my fault, even though I couldn't change the situation. That was hard as well. But yeah, that was some of the challenges that that we went through. But I found I had a support group for young women with breast cancer. And I found that that really helped. And what else did I use? I use actually. There's a peer-to-peer support group on the Breast Cancer Network Australia website, and I went on that quite a lot and that was good as well because you can kind of have conversations with lots of different people having different times, but similar experiences like you and I. It was really nice to be able to talk to people because there was no one in my area that I knew that had had that.

Kate: Yeah, and I really think that unless you're going through it yourself, we have someone close to you who is going through it really just don't understand how overwhelming it can be and how damaging it can be to families and relationships.

Shananne: and the out-of-pocket costs and things like that to stress that extra medical appointments and things like that put on you as a family. You have like a budget and an idea when you're pregnant. Like your financial situation and then it changes and you your whole life changes overnight. And there's a lot of things that come with that. When we were at the hospital having Willow, my young women's breast cancer group, they so kindly they paid for my hospital stay and all those things like the financial side of things that was really such a big help. We did cut back on some things, but yeah, it was great in that way. How did you find that financial strain of having cancer?

Kate: So we first when I was diagnosed, I think being so young, we didn't have health care, Private health care, I think you think automatically, Oh, I need to go private for this. It's so important that I get all of this done. And it was actually my breast cancer Donna that sat us down and said, go through the public system. You'd be surprised. Yes, how good it actually is, and it really was for us. Yeah, amazing. We and Quinn stayed in the NICU for five weeks, so they ordered breast milk because I was unable to provide breast milk. Obviously, I've started chemotherapy. And so they organized from the Royal Brisbane Children's Hospital to get some breast milk for Quinn as well. And that I honestly, we did not pay very much for my treatment. It was the things like the wigs to feel comfortable in public and those things that were extra for us as well.

Shananne: Yeah, definitely. Did you feel insecure and things like that or did you kind of feel strong? I know that at the start I feel insecure, but then I was kind of like, I made a baby. So I'm actually stronger than I thought that I was.

Kate: Yeah, absolutely. At the start, just being so daunted by all of the medical terms, not understanding, you know, they'll say stage three to you, but you don't understand what that means at the time. I think it's important that in that situation, you really have to have someone to support you there who can come along to your hospital appointments because they're just a blur to me now. So my husband was able to come along to some hospital appointments and be that extra person just to lean on a little bit so they can sort of help make the big decisions, I guess, and clear things up for you.

Shananne: Yeah, I am my partner. When I told him, we kind of had a chat about it and there was a there was a booklet that I got from the Breast Cancer Network and the book it was called ‘I wish I could fix it’ because he kind of, I think that he wanted to take it away. But yeah, he wanted to take it away. You should be able to have your pregnancy, you should be able to not have this worry. I want to take that away. So I found that my two biggest supports during my breast cancer journey was the Breast Cancer Network. The information in the My Journey kit, the planner. I put all of my information that because even now, a few strays healing now, but I still have the brain fog and find it hard to keep my train of thought from my medication. But it was just so practical. All of the information that the Breast Cancer Network they gave, like the the plan, the information for family, how to have conversations with people, the resources at the back of their little booklets and the information online. It's quite daunting like you can look at information and it's from overseas and it's not relevant to Australia.

Kate: And I also found to a lot of the information and the statistics were for women over a certain age, older than I, I guess, me at 26yrs. Hmm. So that was really hard sometimes to relate to being a young person, having breast cancer when all of the statistics and information were for women who are older.

Shananne: Yeah, exactly. And it's like, we are a little group like we are a little group, all of our own and there is. But there was so much information at the start it was overwhelming to look at it, I found. But then once I kind of. I would go in and then I would go back and then I would go in and then I would go back as I began to build up my resilience. I overwhelming hearing all of those terms and things like that because I thought I was going to die. Yeah, that's what I thought. I thought to myself, Ah, my daughter's not going to know me and my son's not going to know me.

Kate: And that's so heartbreaking as well.

Shananne: It is. And so it was hard. So I just kind of went in to the information and then went out of the information. If I was having a hard day or didn't, I kind of let myself just have a hard day and rest. You do build up your resilience. I think that the Breast Cancer Network, the information. I was so grateful that I had that information because I would not have known where to look for it. Yes, I would have had no idea how to find the information, how to support my partner, because even though we have had breast cancer, you're the strong one as well. Even though you're the fragile one that's having the treatment, you're also the strong one.

Kate: Absolutely.

Shananne: So I supported my family and my and my partner, and even though he supported me, I found the information for him and found those people to support him as well. So yeah, what information or advice would you give to women that are just starting to go on a journey of their own of breast cancer?

Kate: I definitely think with me in my story of how I was diagnosed, really being an advocate for yourself, you're getting a second opinion, you know, standing up for yourself when things don't feel right. Yeah, at the time, I think the hardest thing to deal with for me was, and this is going to say I'm very vain, but the changes in my body, so I was on steroids and the chemotherapy coming off pregnancy, I put on a lot of weight and I lost my hair. So that was quite challenging for me at the time. I remember looking in the mirror and just looking at my face, and it was literally white moon because I was so swollen from the steroids and everything, and also not being able to bond as well with my baby as well. Obviously, I was very lucky that I had my husband and my mom to help me out, but there were days where I would just lay on the shower floor because I felt so sick and so they would have to look after Quinn. So that was quite challenging. What about you? What did you find hardest to deal with?

Shananne: I had similar off days that I know I'm well, but I wish I knew that I could let go. But because I have done so much to the fear that I was going to die, it took the joy out of my life away. It kind of took. I felt like I was robbed of enjoying my children and

Kate: having a newborn as well.

Shananne: Yeah, and it was. And it's hard to talk about it because you want to be happy for your friends and your family. But this is it's not a journey that you plan to go on. But I wish I knew that it was okay to let go because you do find yourself again, and you and I do appreciate all of the things in my life so much more than I did before I had cancer.

Kate: Absolutely.

Shananne: And I've realized how strong I am as a person, and I'm just so grateful.

Kate: So after the treatment finished originally, I was almost a little bit lost because I've been going to the hospital three or four times a week for chemotherapy and checkups and radiation every day. You sort of think, well, what am I doing now, now that I don't have to be there every day? So that was a little bit of a challenge for me to get back into the mindset of, No, this is my life. This is we're moving ahead now. I'm very lucky that the treatment responded well, but that was definitely a big change to me, and I had to have a couple of fix up surgeries after. So I had a DIEP flap reconstruction. So they took my tummy and they took a double mastectomy and use my tummy to re do my boobs. So I had a couple of follow up surgeries with that as well, where they had to fix my scarring and make nipples again, so that even that and losing your not your identity as a woman, but my body is not the same. I have scarring all over it. I'm very lucky. I had a brilliant surgeon who did a great job with my DIEP flap reconstruction. This is not the same anymore. My body feels a little bit different, and I think that's OK because it's been through so much. Yeah, and yeah, what about you? How did you adjust after treatment?

Shananne: I kind of feel a little bit sad. I'm kind of like counting this big support group with all of these specialists. And so that's when I got onto the peer to peer online on the Breast Cancer Network quite a lot at that time. And there was women on there. I think that they were like people that monitored the site as well, and they were women that which is hilarious. Like, you could just talk. You didn't actually have to talk about cancer. You could just get on there and just talk about anything because they're from everywhere. So all different stages of life and walks of life. So when I was lonely, I mean, my partner who went back to work and I was at home on my own and I was exhausted. I would often speak to Jo my breast cancer nurse. I would speak to her, but it did take me. It took me quite a few months to adjust to life in the big smoke on my own, so to speak, like it was. It's definitely intense at the start. And then when you kind of let let go and you kind of write this off, you go now this is your life and you have to kind of make a new life. And it is hard at the start, but you slowly, slowly make your way back to yourself again and build your life back up and build your strength. And I think it took me about 12 months, to be honest, until I got to that point where I was like. I felt like I was strong again. My medication started to even out a little bit because from having all of the pregnancy hormones to having everything taken away, all of the oestrogen in my body, it made me so sick. Yeah, so it was about 12 months. But I did feel sad at the start when I lost all of my specialists and things like that. And the nurses at the hospital and the faces that you'd see every day. And I remember there was I went to a hospital to have radiation and there was a nurse there and she would check my skin every day and she was like a real old old school sort of a nurse. And she I just thought she was or she always gave everybody a hug. I was like COVID, obviously. So there's lots of hugs and laughs, and yeah, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the support that I got and I was it was hard to let it go to you.

Kate: What about your relationships with your husband or your close friends? How were they impacted?

Shananne: I feel like our relationship with my partner is much stronger than it's ever been. I'm really so grateful to have him in my life and to be the father of our children. He's the best dad. But I found some of my friendships I lost. I'll be honest, I did lose some of my friendships that I really cherished. But then I had a lot of my friendships became stronger as well, and that was another aspect that I wasn't expecting as well. So how about you?

Kate: I actually found that a lot of older friends who I hadn't heard from for a while did reach out, and I was very, very blessed. I had some people who had gone through a similar experience and they actually held a fundraising day for me as well. I know. So that was really lovely. That was totally unexpected. My relationship with my husband is fine. Obviously, we reached out and he said he needed the information, I guess, that we were talking about before from the Breast Cancer Network. When you're diagnosed, it's hard to pull me, pull me, but it's also family that is going through it as well.

Shananne: Yes, definitely. And they go through it in a different way than we go through or through, don't they? Absolutely, though, because I still have to go. Your partner still goes to work and and but then they come home and they help you with the children and then they give you that support and they take on a lot of extra things that some people find hard when they're at work. And I mean, especially being a police officer, your husband has a very important job that he does as well. So I'm sure you're very proud of him.

Kate: I am. He managed quite well, especially for someone who had to go to work when we had a newborn.

Shananne: Yeah. And being a police officer, you see people at their worst every day. So he must be very special, man.

Kate: He is. I definitely think reaching out for help is important. Even though, you know, being young and you're in your first house and you families starting, you know, you feel so independent. But reaching out for help really got us through a couple of hard times while I was going through my treatment. There is a charity called ‘Mummy's Wish’ who actually paid one of our bills for us because obviously I wasn't able to work. So they're they're amazing. It's not a bad thing to reach out for help. I think people want to help. I think that so many people in my life wanted to help, but they didn't know how. And so even just the small things like I had a friend who reached out to me and she actually sent me some socks to wear during chemotherapy because you get quite cold. Even the little things like that just were amazing and helped at the time.

Shananne: It is important to ask for help. And I think to ask for the help that you need, whether it be just coming around and looking after the children or going and paying your bills and things like that, we received support from Mommy's Wish as well. That was really great. They paid for meals for us while I had radiation therapy, and I was so appreciative of that as well. I think that when you ask for help and you ask for the help that you need because, you know, people don't know, they want to help, but they're not sure how to. So when you ask for what you need, it's much easier. And I think that some people, when they hear that you, you're not well. Sometimes they don't know how to respond and it's hard for them as well. So sometimes I feel like. They go going to say the wrong thing or that they might do something that you don't want, and so it's easy that they just decide not to do anything at all. So when you ask for something that you need that can help you in a way that they know that you're going to need it.

Kate What are your fears about the cancer returning?

Shananne: That was a big fear of mine, that I will get cancer again. One of the side effects of my medication was that I had a lot of bone pain and I actually had to go and have a bone scan. So that kind of for me, once I had that bone scan and I could see on the screen that there was no cancer in my body, it was kind of like a switch went off in my brain and I could sort of relax. But that was one of my biggest fears. But I found it really helpful that I got some counseling. That was one thing that helped support not just my mental health, but my spirit as well, because it is a it's a fear that you can't easily shake off. It took for me somebody that was a trained professional to show me how to support myself better.

Kate: Yes, I also suffer from anxiety as well, and I think every lump or sore pain that you have in your body, you automatically go, Oh, that's it. The cancer's come back. So that can be quite daunting as well. And I find I have a lot of anxiety around going to the hospital now, even though my experiences were fabulous, with the hospital just being there and being reminded of how sick I felt and how out of control at the beginning things felt for me. Yeah, it just triggers a little bit of anxiety in me. I think I'm getting tests now as well for just being pregnant and all the testing that comes along with that. That is also triggering my anxiety as well. I think because we were just so we didn't expect it to be cancer, you know, it was just an ultrasound that we went and had. And then now it's yeah, it's just always underlying. I think,

Shananne: yeah, it is. It's it's always there. It's just it's like a part of you. For me, I just I had to open my heart to something that I didn't want to do into my life. And now it just lives alongside us. We live our life and it's just there alongside us, and I have to look after myself, which I do with a healthy diet. And I have counseling and I do lot exercises. And I found that Pilates really helped a lot of my side effects. It helped my bone and joint pain so many different aspects of healing. I felt really supported by doing more gentle exercise rather than trying to get that stamina back that you had pre-cancer. Because when you're young, you feel like you can go to the gym and do like a full class. Well, why can't I go for a jog if I want to go for a jog or do those things and you literally you can't do it? So for me, the gentle exercises is something that I find it is the best for me now. How about yourself?

Kate: Yes. Before I was diagnosed, I was a gym junkie for lack of a better word that I was going to boot camp know flipping tires and everything. I can't do that anymore. My body has changed and I've sort of accepted that now and I do. Yoga is actually really good to me for body and mind, and so find that really helpful. What's your advice to other young women diagnosed?

Shananne: Ask for a second opinion if you feel that you need a second opinion and try not to look on the internet at all of the information, go straight to the Breast Cancer Network Australia website and get the support from the Mcgrath breast care nurse. If you can and there is one in your area as well and just be kind to yourself because it is a hard time and it's okay that it's hard, it does get better. But yeah, it is hard for a little while.


Kate: Yeah, I think with my story too, I really learned that sometimes people do get things wrong and I don't, you know, I don't hold hate for that GP that didn't diagnose me. But I wish as well that maybe from my experience, if she does get another young person in with similar symptoms, she's not just quick to write it off, you know, she actually goes through with testing it as well, so it's not left to stage three. Yeah, that was a really big wakeup call for me just to always stick to your gut feeling and get someone else's advice as well. It's been great to talk to you, Shannon, and share our stories. So thank you.

Shananne: Thanks, Kate. It's been great chatting to you as well.

Kellie Curtain: You've been listening to in conversation a special series of Upfront about breast cancer with thanks to Sussan, for young people affected by breast cancer, BCNA’s, My Journey has a range of resources. Visit my journey dot org dot au. And as the ladies mentioned, BCNA’s Online Network is a great online peer to peer support community where you can connect with others going through a similar experience. You'll find that on the BCNA website. To ensure you don't miss an episode about Upfront, Why not subscribe? So you always have an episode ready to listen to? We'd also love you to leave a rating and review and complete the survey that you'll find in the show notes. This survey helps us to tailor and create content that's relevant to you and your breast cancer diagnosis. Thanks for joining us. I'm Kellie Curtain. It's good to be upfront with you.