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.
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