When friends Jane Fong and Sue Drum were diagnosed with breast cancer a few months apart they were soon supporting each other while comparing treatment experiences.
Sue maintains she had it easy.
“My journey was really, really simple, I was one of the lucky ones, my needs were very minimal compared to Jane.
“I was able to work from home during my chemo and thanks to a considerate employer, I returned to work soon after.”
At the other end of the spectrum, Jane, already suffering from the autoimmune disease Lupus, encountered a much bumpier road.
“I was a bit jealous of Sue, I am a teacher so had to take six months off work, I had numerous surgeries then the chemo didn’t agree with me so I had many hospital stays,” she said.
“I felt quite isolated because the Lupus meant I had to screen visitors for illness.”
Despite their very different breast cancer journeys, they knew the benefits of a healthy diet and exercise during treatment and afterwards.
They attended afternoon boot camp sessions before joining the Revitalise program provided by partners Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) and Fernwood Fitness and both remain active members of the Bendigo club.
They also attended a Look Good Feel Better workshop. The free national service provides demonstrations tailored to help women manage the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment.
“My surgeon told me I would be okay with the chemo but wondered how I would cope with losing my hair,” Sue said.
“I was not looking forward to it, but looking back, it was nothing.”
Jane was daunted by the thought of returning to school minus her long locks but found the students very accepting.
Show your support for breast cancer sufferers by forming a team of family, friends or work colleagues and join the team challenge at the Mother’s Day Classic, on Sunday, May 13.
– Vicki Harrington