Boobs. At 10, they’re ‘mozzie bites’. At 14, they’re weapons for embarrassment (cue school boys flicking bra straps and contortionist efforts in school change rooms at swimming carnivals!). At 20, they’re fashion accessories. At 25, or 30, or 35 they are portable milk bars to nourish a child. But what if, at 38 they become ticking time bombs?
You never think it will happen to you. For Donna Turner, just nine months after giving birth to her son Orlando, she received the diagnosis that rocked her world. She shares her story with us:
Tell us a little about your breast cancer journey
I found the lump myself after doing regular self checks. I have a family history of breast cancer but we do not carry the BRCA genes. “Invasive Lobular Carcinoma, Stage 3” were not the words I expected to hear, especially at my age and at the stage in my life where I should have been enjoying motherhood with our IVF miracle baby.
I was fit, I was healthy, it was definitely a shock. I made the decision then and there that I would beat this, I would be here to raise that little boy. I had a double mastectomy and results from that showed the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes. I had a second surgery to remove all 21 lymph nodes which left me unable to pick up my baby or care for him on my own for a total of 46 days, a number I will never forget.
I was in hospital for my only child’s first birthday. Chemo was challenging but my biggest fear was how Orlando would react waking up one day to a bald mummy. And of course, his non judgmental little soul was just fine, giving my shiny head a little pat and continuing on his merry way.
Radiation therapy was difficult to juggle with our now 19-month old toddler and having to go to the hospital every day for five weeks. My amazing husband, David, continued to work full time for our financial security while our supportive family and friends rallied around us offering everything from live-in baby sitters, to home cooked meals, lawn mowing, cleaning and more, for which we are forever grateful.
I have now finished treatment and my next step is prophylactic hysterectomy and oophorectomy followed by breast reconstruction surgery and hormone blocking medications for 5 – 10 years. My cancer journey is far from over but every day I am grateful to be here to accept the challenges.
At 39, I still have a lot of living to do!
Breast cancer is commonly perceived to be a “50+” issue, not topical for younger women. How has breast cancer impacted your life?
Not being able to attend social gatherings or go to crowded places or even the supermarket during the times when my immune system was at its lowest for risk of infections. Not being able to have playdates with Orlando’s friends or join a mother’s group. Not having the physical strength or energy to be the type of mum I’d always dreamed of being.
What does the Mother’s Day Classic mean to you?
It’s an opportunity for friends, family and the community to come together to celebrate the fighters, the survivors and those who fought valiantly, while raising the much needed funds for the very research that has made my treatment available to me. My doctor said that its due to this research that these medical advancements have been made possible.
One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Seven women die in Australia every day from breast cancer. The Mother’s Day Classic is a powerful fundraising event to shine the spotlight on this devastating disease, that affects not just the women diagnosed but their families, friends and communities.
Join the Women in Super Mother’s Day Classic (MDC) Gold Coast and run or walk to raise funds for breast cancer research. With a target of $4million to hit this year, every body counts. Gather your girlfriends and family for a great day out with coffee and food stands onsite, activities, kids entertainment and prize draws.
When // Sunday 8 May 2016, 7.30am start
Where // Pratten Park, Old Burleigh Road, Broadbeach
Register // www.mothersdayclassic.com.au/register