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Go backMoira's Breast Cancer Story

 

Moira is a happy confident woman who is involved in her community as well as caring for her quadriplegic husband. We asked Moira to share her story of the day she was told she had breast cancer – and how this impacted and changed her life.

 

The day Moira was told she had breast cancer, in 2012, she and her husband had just moved to a lovely coastal town to retire, to enjoy the quiet life and some boating. A routine mammogram showed that further investigation was necessary. Everything moved in slow motion. Moira’s vivid memory of sitting in the waiting room reading the posters, seeing the one which said, 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. She counted the other women in the room and thought that maybe 2 of these ladies could receive this news today.

Moira was right, she and the lady sitting beside her. 

She had a vacuum assisted core biopsy, and after an 11 long days wait, discovered she DCIS grade 2 and 3.

After discussion with her doctor and Colin her husband, Moira decided she should have a mastectomy. Moira’s mother had breast cancer and as Moira is the primary caregiver for her husband she needed to be well to support him.

I asked Moira what single piece of advice she would give to a woman who has just been diagnosed. She replied ‘It will feel like a rollercoaster ride and the waiting will be the worst, so be kind to yourself and take the time you need for you. If you are a researcher, find out as much as possible, so there won’t be too many surprises. For me, knowledge is power, but that isn’t for everyone’.

Moira recalls her thoughts around sharing her diagnosis with her family and friends ‘I was nervous about notifying my friends and my daughter, more because of the distance. I printed out as much information as I could which was written in layman terms, so everyone was on the same page’.

I asked Moira what she thought are the most important questions to ask your doctor initially. ‘That would depend on your personal diagnosis,’ she said ‘but I would suggest to always having someone with you to be a second set of ears and to take notes. It can be overwhelming’.

The night before Moira was being discharged from hospital she spent time chatting to the nurses and Colin on the phone. The next morning she recalls ‘I felt great, I didn’t have any pain and didn’t need any pain killers. I had broken my toe a few days before my surgery so when I left the hospital I went shopping on the way home for comfortable shoes, with my drains in a shoulder bag. I couldn’t wait to get home’.

Moira decided she did not want to have reconstruction and she recalled to me she was so excited to be going for her first breast form fitting. ‘I had been researching and wanted a contact form, but discovered it was too soon after surgery for that, so I took the advice of the fitter and went with an Amoena silicone form and Lara bra. I remember walking out to the car where Colin was waiting, and he gave me a great big smile as I nodded to him. I loved that there was a matching bounce on my mastectomy side’.

I wanted to find out if Moira’s perception of (or outlook on) life had changed as a result of her journey? She responded ‘It has definitely shown me what is important and what isn’t. I don’t sweat the small stuff so much anymore. I think I actually enjoy things a lot more. I look out my window and know how fortunate I am every day’.

Moira had been visited by the McGrath Foundation Breast Care nurse, who offered a lot of information and she also passed on an invitation for her to attend the Christmas meeting of the local Breast Cancer support group. 

 

A Support Group is more than talking about cancer

 

Moira’s first thought was that she was not going to make breast cancer a hobby, and she didn’t want to sit around talking about breast cancer.  After some consideration and because she was new in town, she decided to go at least once. So with a big smile and a plate of nibbles turned up at the meeting.  

That was seven years ago. Now Moira is the committee chairperson (six years ago she was asked if she would take over the role) and has made wonderful friends. This group certainly doesn’t focus its attention on breast cancer that was just the catalyst that brought everyone together. Moira is industrious and organises guest speakers to attend their meetings. 

Moira highly recommends attending a support group. Through Moira’s involvement in the support group she has assimilated well into the community. She is always available to help others and is a source of information to the group and her community.

Since then Moira and her husband have continued to live in their idyllic community where they have support from many areas. 
Her advice to other women facing a breast cancer diagnosis is clear: ‘You are not alone – reach out, talk to people, help is close by. There is life after breast cancer’.