Breast Cancer – A Beast of a Disease

Life can be such a bitch!  Over the past few weeks two close friends have been diagnosed with breast cancer and had operations to have breast lumps removed and diagnosed.

It means that today, fun-loving Anne will have a mastectomy. Her right breast must be removed because the lump taken out three weeks ago revealed third stage, aggressive cancer.

We heard the news yesterday at a joyful Christmas party at the home of mutual friends, and Anne, who has voluptuous breasts, was happy to show her scar. She has been always a cleavage girl, showing off her “assets’’ and now she pulls her lipstick from between her boobs, purses her lips and imitates painting it on her lips:

“I will have to find somewhere else to put my lipstick,’’ she says, shoving it right back  “because after this is all over, I am going to be a new woman.

“This is all going to go,’’ she says of her ample platform. “I am going to have this boob reduced,’’ she says, grabbing her left breast  “and the other one reconstructed with my tummy fat.’’

Anne is a funny, laugh-a-minute personality and now she laughs heartily as she grabs a roll of her “spare tyre”.

“But you know, I had the lump removed on November 25th and on November 27th, our first grandchild was born….so we went from the deepest low to the highest joy in two days!  To see this beautiful baby boy, gave us such much joy.’’

My friend from afar, Sydneysider Jane, underwent her second lumpectomy in six years last week. Her lump was in the other breast and this week, she telephoned to say it was another small primary cancer. “Thankfully, it’s low-grade,’’ she said.

In our lifetime one in eight women will experience the fear of finding breast cancer, but over the past 30 years, the survival rates have almost doubled. Mortality rates have dropped to about 23 per cent of all women diagnosed with breast cancer.

There are skeptics arising in our midst who question the cost versus effectiveness of Breast Screen to save lives.  But they need to heed the stories of Anne and Jane whose cancerous lumps were both discovered through the free breast X-ray service.

They both received that dreaded telephone call within a day or so and were called back for further tests.

Their new year heralds  the breast cancer journey of chemotherapy,  radiotherapy and life-saving medication – all part of the mix to save lives.

Women all say that treatment is a harrowing process, but I can now count on one hand, the number of friends, colleagues and acquaintances of a certain age, who have battled with breast cancer – and all have survived.

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