I took this photo on our 10th wedding anniversary in 2015. We changed our plans from a holiday away to be a day drive to Manukau Heads as I broke my wrist and had recently had surgery to fix the break. I love the imagery of a lighthouse – a beacon of hope, light in the darkness.
In July 2019 I went for a routine mammogram, not expecting anything out of the ordinary. Two weeks later I had a call back to investigate something “of concern”. Reasoning that 80% of call backs are for benign lumps I tried not to panic. I had a 360 degree diagnostic mammogram done and a core needle biopsy. Based on the concern of the staff and their serious faces I knew this was not likely to be a benign result. Fast forward one (stressful) week to my results appointment and I found out that I had a grade 3 invasive carcinoma. I had breast cancer. Everything became a roller coaster of appointments, planning and then waiting for surgery. Followed by 4 months of chemotherapy, radiation treatment and now 5 years of hormone therapy.
So why the lighthouse? Why a beacon of hope in the face of my diagnosis? Well, I have God walking beside me in the journey. I have my church family, family and friends to support me. I am not alone. The mammogram saved my life. The cancer was Stage 2a and although aggressive, was only in 2 lymph nodes out of 27 removed and the tumour was 1.4 cm. So it was caught early. Early enough for the surgeons and oncologists to use the words ‘treatable’ and ‘curable’. Today we have treatment choices and medicines available to give people like me the best chance possible of remaining cancer free in the future. There is no 100% guarantee that it won’t come back but as I move into the next phase of being a breast cancer survivor I have hope to hold on to and a 15th wedding anniversary to celebrate this year. And I’m planning a return to the lighthouse.