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While There is Life, There is Hope

July 22, 2014
While There is Life, There is Hope

While there is life, there is hope

Tracey Ryan is 49 and has secondary breast cancer. First diagnosed in 2010, last year she learnt her diagnosis was terminal. 'My oncologist gave me a time frame regarding my life expectancy. BCNA gave me the will and the support to fight to exceed it.'

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“I’m Tracey Ryan, I’m 49 and I have advanced breast cancer. I was diagnosed in February 2010, and despite a double mastectomy and several courses of chemotherapy, I was informed my diagnosis was terminal in September 2012.

I have been married for 28 years and have two children, a daughter in her mid-20s who has just started her career as a nurse, and a 15 year old son who is at school.

In early February 2010, I was in the Royal Children’s Hospital with my son, Leigh. He was an inpatient at the time and I was staying overnight with him in a very uncomfortable single sofa bed. I rolled over during the night and felt pain in my right breast. At the time, I pretty much put it down to the bed itself – they really were uncomfortable!

But a short time later, during a breast self-examination, I felt a lump. I told my husband and we made an appointment for the very next day. In what seemed no time at all I had a biopsy and was told I had stage 3, grade 4 breast cancer. My husband seemed more upset about it than me at the time, which struck me as odd. I half-expected that when I was diagnosed, the sky would fall in and that I would be devastated. I decided very quickly that I would fight it tooth and nail.

Despite surgery, my cancer spread. That was really hard to take, having gone through all the pain, disfigurement, cost and self-esteem issues. It had spread to my spine, which causes me strong back pain every day. And then it spread to a couple of my ribs, which was really bad news and now it is in my lung and liver. In May 2012 I was informed by my oncologist that my cancer was incurable, but that it could be slowed down. She tried to tell me how long I was likely to have left, but I refused to let her. I decided that I would not live my life waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. In other words, I made a decision to live, rather than waiting to die.”

Read Tracey’s full story on the Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) website.

Advice on telling your children you have cancer

If you or someone you care about has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, contact Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) for a My Journey Kit, a free information resource for newly diagnosed women - 1800 500 258 or BCNA website.

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