Blog

Fundraisers

Fundraiser – The Art Gallery Gladstone Hospital 2020-21

We are seeking avid gardeners who can donate some potted succulents for our stall at the Rotary Charity markets, any style or colour. Please make sure they are in good health and have established roots. Please give me a text to arrange a pick up and drop off time and place. 0414974643 Katrina
Proceeds will assist with the The Art Gallery Gladstone Hospital for 2020-21.
Community Arts Initiative
Breast cancer Awareness - Our story

Glenys

In June 2016, I was diagnosed with stage 3 triple negative breast cancer.
My sister had recently had a bilateral mastectomy from cancer and they found a lump in my left breast.
That month I had a lumpectomy and and a month late 6 months of chemotherapy and then 6 weeks of radiation.
I feel so lucky to be alive and it may have been worse if I  had not gone for the mammogram when I did.
My sister has since passed from cancer.
I always said that she saved me.
I am a nurse and now have a greater empathy for the patients I care for and know how important it is to look after yourself.

This project was supported by :-

Breast cancer Awareness - Our story

Maree (Sharon)

My breast cancer journey is the story of my younger sister Sharon who was diagnosed in February 2015 at 41.

I still remember that day and that phone call from Sharon. I felt so helpless as she cried over the phone, all alone in Brisbane with no support.  I was in shock as there was no history of breast cancer in our family.  Over the next two years, Sharon endured many surgeries, chemo and radiation.  She was clear!  Well at least we all thought.  In October 2018, the cancer had returned.  It had metastasised and was in her bones and liver.  The diagnosis wasn’t in Sharon’s favour and chemo now a permanent part of her life.  There were small wins with treatment but in the end it stopped working and Sharon lost her battle in November 2020 at 46.  She left behind her two beautiful young daughters.

Sharon battled her demons every day, but she stayed strong for all to see.  She tried to do as much as she could with the limited time she had. She thought she had more time.

My story is one of guilt!  The guilt I have had from the beginning, that I could not help Sharon! I could not take her scars and pain away! I could not save her from this wretched disease!

Please ladies, get yourself checked regularly.

This project was supported by :-

Breast cancer Awareness - Our story

Angela

Well I saw a movie once, it was in Dutch.. Roughly translated: A lady goes to the doctor…In my case A lady went to the Physio… At the end of February 2021, I had some pain under my left breast. I’d had a hard knock and bruise there a year before and just thought it was acting up, but Anita from Hands on Physio refused to do anything until I checked in with my doctor. So, to the doctor I went, who also straight away ordered a Mammogram and Ultrasound. No discernible lump anywhere, but better to be safe than sorry. So off to the Imed I go. Our family has no history of cancer, especially breast cancer so I’m thinking it’s nothing but of course fate will laugh…one lump found in both mammogram and ultrasound so then the biopsy fun which came back with the word “suspicious”. More tests and then a call from my doctor the very next day…Yes invasive carcinoma.

I then saw the surgeon (Dr Al Askari) who sent away for tests to determine type and it came back as aggressive HER-2. Lucky me! But the good news was that is was extremely early and 16mm, so it was decided that a lumpectomy was needed followed by operation for portacath, followed by “light Chemo” also known as Paclitaxol for 12 weeks. Then rads for 4 weeks. The 4 needles in the breast to check lymph nodes was extremely painful and the hook wire was no fun either as the mammogram after was less than successful due to how far back the cancer was {right near my rib} But good results there was no lymph node involvement. At surgery, they removed two as well as lump…

I threw a reaction to the Paclitaxol first time, so I had to have a slower infusion over two hours, that worked. I was quite lucky and didn’t get too many side effects. Mainly fatigue and of course the dreaded hair loss. and some tingling in my hands and feet, mostly numbness now, and the steroid tablets knocked me around too but I had no nausea so that was good. Tried working a few hours a day when I could. My manager at Kmart was great, as were the staff and other managers so lucky there too.

Radiation was not too bad, 3 weeks with a booster week added on for immediate area and I coped with that really well. Cancer council at Rockhampton were fantastic, I stayed there for 4 weeks as treatment has to be in Rocky, and I live in Gladstone. All my chemo treatments were in rocky too under Dr Vermula (I chose to go private) and staff at Mater in Rocky are fantastic too. I also get an infusion of Herceptin every three weeks which started same time as Chemo. This is a wonder drug developed by Dr Slamon in the USA and it has helped massively with the survival rate of HER-2 cancers. It is a targeted antibody and is developed for this type. I was stage 1, with a grade 3 cancer. So here I am, I’ve survived the chemo, the rads, still going on Herceptin but at this stage all scans are clear. I have to have an echocardiogram every 3 months to check my heart and of course the numerous scans and Dr appointments will be here for some time to come but my outlook is great. Special thanks to the cancer council Rockhampton, nurses at Mater in Rocky, Sally at the McGrath foundation and Anita at Hands on Physio who I credit with saving my life because I would have shrugged it off as another pain, and instead I got treated straight away and come away with a very good prognosis.

There is always hope, stay strong, be positive and remember, get your boobs checked and if anything feels wrong, get it checked, it can save your life.

This project was supported by:-

Breast cancer Awareness - Our story

Therese (Sharon)

My breast cancer journey started when my sister, Sharon, was diagnosed in 2015. It was the first day of kindergarten for my son, so it was already an emotional day for me. Nothing could prepare me for the journey that the next 5 years (and still now) would hold. Prior to Sharon’s diagnosis, I’d obviously heard of breast cancer, and I’d known of a few (mainly older) ladies who had it, but I didn’t realise how many different types there were and how complicated it was to treat. We didn’t have a history of breast cancer in our family, so it was a tremendous shock when she told us.

It was so hard for me, as I lived in another state, and all I wanted to do was give her a big hug. Sharon had her surgeries and treatments and was clear for a period, but unfortunately, it returned, and she lost her battle in 2020, aged 46, leaving behind her two daughters. Sharon endured so much in her battle, dealing with the side effects of treatments, having so many surgeries (some of which just to feel “whole” again), knowing every day she had a ticking time bomb inside of her, but mostly, she worried how her girls would cope without her. In the end, even though Sharon knew she was close to death, it still came sooner than she anticipated, she still had many things she wanted to do.

While Sharon’s story is horrific, and I hope that I never have to walk down that path, mine is a story of helplessness. You can’t understand until you’ve been through this. Supporting, watching, and caring for a loved one through an illness like this is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Every time Sharon had a body scan, a blood test, or an appointment with her oncologist, I too, nervously waited for the outcome, hoping for good news. When the results weren’t so great, it took so much emotional strength to say to her, “stay positive, things will work out”, when really, I just wanted to burst into tears, which I always did once I got off the phone with her. There was a long period of time where I would cry in the car all the way to work and all the way home again.

I remember the beginning of the end; it was a frantic call from Sharon saying through tears “I’m never going to see you again”. You see, covid had hit and the Queensland border was closed, and I hadn’t seen Sharon since the Christmas before. I had to get documentation from Sharon’s oncologist so that I could apply for an exemption to cross the border. Do you know how it feels when you read “She is in the terminal phase of an incurable illness with the prognosis of days to very short weeks”? Devastation and panic, would I get there in time? I was lucky to be granted an exemption and entered hotel quarantine with my mum and daughter.

Sharon passed away 5 days after we ended quarantine. It was so hard watching a strong, independent, vibrant young women slowly lose control of her mind and body. It started with moments of confusion, to difficulty holding things to eventually drifting off to her eternal sleep. She stills visits me, in the form of a kookaburra, always laughing and smiling.
My message to you all, go and get tested, if not for yourself, do it for your loved ones.

This project was supported by :-

Breast cancer Awareness - Our story

Tracey

I Was diagnosed in 2012 at 46 with breast cancer. My youngest was only 6 years old. I thought I wouldn’t have a long life or be around for my children back then and struggled with everything. I was free at the 6 year mark after a mastectomy and chemo and then it metastasised to my liver in 2018. Breast cancer in my liver! I had 5 tumours, largest was 5cm. So I threw myself into my art even more and started to try and save myself with diet, infrared saunas, meditation art. My last scan showed 1 tumour left at 2 mm so I am seeing a more positive future now.

My health is great even though I have cancer, and I am very positive and love my life. X even though I have cancer.

Breast cancer Awareness - Our story

Breast screen

Did you know you can have a FREE breast screen if you are 40 and over?

Breast screening aims to find breast cancers that are very small – too small to be seen or felt by you or your doctor. When cancers are small, they’re more easily treated. This means that women can have a better quality of life after their breast cancer diagnosis. The earlier breast cancer is found, the better the chance of surviving it.

You can go onto the Breast screen website and set up an account, make appointments and view the last time you had a Breast screen. BreastScreen Queensland’s Rockhampton Service has permanent services in Rockhampton and Gladstone and a mobile service that travels across Central Queensland and the Central West. They also send you a reminder when your next one is due. You can also call them to make an appointment on 13 20 50 .

Friendly Staff at Breast Screen Gladstone

This awareness project was supported by

Breast cancer Awareness - Our story

Carla

October 2019, I was pressured into getting my first mammogram at the age of 49 by a friend. I knew it was free from the age of 40 Years but thought because there was no family history, and I couldn’t feel anything different I thought that I was all okay.
WRONG! First mammogram and I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Within seven days I was in Brisbane six hours from home.  I had Lumpectomy, surgery, healed and then six weeks of radiation. If I hadn’t have gone for that first mammogram, I’d be in a whole world of pain right now. It was caught early enough to not have to have chemo which my family and I are extremely grateful for.

Please I can’t stress enough…..GO AND GET YOUR GIRLS CHECKED. Takes 20 minutes and it’s free from 40yrs at Breastscreen Queensland. Call 132050 today! It could save your life it definitely saved mine 💪.

Breast cancer Awareness - Our story

Sherri

I don’t like to use the word journey cause to me journey is a pleasurable experience, so this is my Story.

On the 18th December 2012 – I’m very sorry but its cancer.  Those words from my GP changed my life forever. 

I was diagnosed with a 6.6 multifocal invasive ducted carcinoma in my left breast at 44 years o age.  I was the first person in my family to have cancer.  I didn’t know too many people that had cancer and those that I did know were old and it killed them.  Oh my god am I going to die?  I had to get a lot more information, so as any person does, I googled my type of breast cancer. 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and coming from a family with 3 sisters and a mum the odds were there.  My first thought was that god it me and not them.  Ok let’s get on with this fight and kick cancers arse.  In a stunned state I saw the surgeon 2 days after diagnosis. He suggested a mastectomy which I was fine with.  Yes, cut it off I don’t want it in me anymore.  After consulting with the oncologist in Brisbane they decided they wanted to try a different method of treatment with me. Chemotherapy, surgery then radiation.  The usual procedure with most breast cancer patients is surgery, chemo then if needed radiation.  Why can’t they just cut it off.  At the Base hospital, all the Breast cancer patients are connected with a breast care nurse.  Another truly wonderful foundation is the McGrath Foundation.  The McGrath Foundation sponsors these fantastic nurses.  I don’t think I could have managed my cancer treatment without my beautiful nurse Gaylene.  After some great caring advice and a sleepless night, I decided to put my fate in the hands of the professionals.  I thought this would all be over in a couple of weeks.  Boy I was wrong.

After a brain scan, full body CT full body bone scan, echocardiogram, all done in 2 days, I then had to have surgery to put in a port a cath with is a portable catheter that lies under the skin that the chemo is injected into. My port became my constant companion for quite a long time.  After my port surgery I developed blood clots in my arm.  The only treatment for these clots was to inject blood thinners into my stomach every morning and night for 8 months.  This absolutely terrified me.  I thought I can’t do this.  As if I haven’t had enough needles now, I’ve got to self-inject myself twice a day into my stomach.  My stomach ended up a huge bruise, but you got to do what you got to do.

I had my first chemo treatment 10 days after diagnosis.  The day before chemo was blood tests, then chemo then the day after chemo back to the hospital for an antinausea injection yes in the stomach.  This was the routine for every round of chemo.  My first chemo was extremely daunting.  I walked into the oncology room where there was an elderly man and a young woman lying on rather comfy looking chairs.  Both bald as badgers with the most welcoming smiles on their faces.  Sadly, the elderly man has now passed and the young woman is now one of my dearest friends.

You hear of stories of the side effects from chemo especially being sick and vomiting, so after my first round of chemo with takes about 3 hours of the rat poison to go into your body, I still felt really well. I went shopping, did the usual things I would normally do.  What are people whining about chemo, this is alright I can handle this no worries. Second day after chemo, feeling ok a little bit tired but still not that bad.  Day 3 oh my god it hit me like a tonne of bricks.  That feeling of nausea all the time but not actually throwing up, totally feeling lethargic and that feeling you get when you’ve had that one too many drinks.

Holy crap can I get through this?  These were the horrid days and they usually lasted 3 days after chemo for about 2 weeks.  I started to feel half human again usually 3 or 4 days before the next round.  I had 5 rounds of what us chemo patients called the red devil.  There are quite a few side effects from chemo that not everyone suffers but quite a few draw the short straw.  These are the ones that I copped.  Fatigue, mouth ulcers, dehydration, feeling of nausea, extremely dry skin, the skin peeled off the soles of both my feet, loss of appetite, constant tingling in my hands and feet, extreme bone aches, blurred vision, my eyes constantly wept, loss of my taste buds, loss of hair on every part of my body and my favourite chemo brain.

My hair started falling out after my 2nd does of chemo. I’d brush my hair and clumps would come out in my brush.  So, I just didn’t brush my hair hoping to fold onto it for a bit longer, but when I ran my fingers through it was still coming out in greater amounts.  I got my husband to drive me to my sister whose is a hairdresser to ger her to shave it all off.  I have never felt anything so liberative as to have no hair.  I loved being bald and I really rocked scarves and bandanas.  Chemo brain another side effect was very strange.  I had problems remembering things and my mind was so fuzzy.  I remember one night lying in bed and asked my husband to turn down the whirly thing on the roof.  I couldn’t remember the word fan.  Due to this side effects the oncology nurse recommended I have a diary to right everything down in which I did which made writing my story a lot easier.  After finishing the last round of the nasty chemo, I then had to have 4 rounds of the milder chemo called docetaxol.  The oncology nurse did warn me that 2 percent of patients react to this chemo and said that with my track record of all the side effects and if anything goes wrong it will happen to Sheri. So, they were watching me carefully. She told me to let them know should I feel anything different once they started the chemo.  Not even 10 seconds into chemo I could feel my tongue tingling I started to really sweat and could feel my heart really racing and the room was starting to go black.  I had an anaphylactic reaction to the mild chemo.  After a frantic phone call to my oncologist in Brisbane it was decided to give me a 2 week break before I was to start on a course of really harsh chemo.  This was 4 courses every 2 weeks.  My last chemo was on May 16th 2013.

During chemo I still had my regular MRI’s, mammograms, and ultrasounds. One ultrasound I’ll never forget is the one that told us my 6.6cm tumour had shrunk down to 1.1cms.  The chemo had done its hob.  This all hasn’t been for nothing.

During one of my chemo sessions a young girl was brought into oncology by ambulance.  She was in her school uniform, not a hair on her head, her eyes slightly sunken but still so sparky with a massive smile on her face.  Not once did she cry when she was poked with needles, she never complained.  Now that is the ultimate definition of brave.  Whenever I felt really low and thought I can’t do this anymore I always thought of that little girl and many other children that go through this horrid disease we call cancer and thought if they can do it so can I.

20th June 2013 was my surgery day to finally have this intruder removed from my body once and for all.  I had to go to Rockhampton in the morning to have a dye injected into my nipple to show the surgeon exactly where the lymph nodes were.  This was the most excruciating pain I’ve ever felt in my life.  Then drive back to Gladstone for surgery.  Surgery went very well, and the surgeon got a good clearance around the lump and removed 16 lymph nodes which thankfully all came back clear.  Thank God the cancer hadn’t spread.  I had half my breast removed and have a scar that runs from my nipple to just under my armpit.  Because I had so many lymph nodes removed, I will always have to be cautious of lymphedema.  This is the swelling of the arm with fluid that has trouble draining through the body because of the reduction of lymph nodes.  It is very painful. I do wear a pressure sleeve to help with this condition.

I then had 6 weeks of radiation to go yet.  This was hard as I had to stay in Brisbane away from my family for 6 weeks.  Radiation itself wasn’t hard.  At my initial consultation with the radium specialist, I had four tattoos around my breast that the machine lines up perfectly with to administer the radiation.  Radiation goes or only 3 minutes every day of the week.  I did get the weekends off.  While chemo destroys the cancer cells as well as the good cells through out your whole body, radiation cleans up any stray cells that chemo may have missed targeting just the area where the cancer was. While I was in Brisbane, I stayed at Ellis Lodge which is the Cancer Council lodge.  It was like a home away from home and the staff were fantastic.  The Cancer council gets no funding from the government and solely relies on the generous donations and fundraising.  Many other patients and I stayed at the Cancer Council Lodge at no expense.  They also had a minivan to ferry the patients from the lodge to the various treatment facilities around Brisbane all funded by the public generosity.  With out this funding a lot of patients would not be able to have the treatment they need.  Funds raised for Cancer Council go towards finding a cure not just for breast cancer but for all cancers, treatment for patients, travel and accommodation for patients that are a distance from the necessary treatment facilities.  Ten dollars can buy a wig for a patient undergoing treatment and the wigs are supplied free.  Having benefitted firsthand from the generosity of donations to the Cancer council I would personally like to thank everyone who has donated to the Cancer council, bought pink ribbon merchandise, and held fundraising events.  You and my wonderful medical team literally saved my lift and will save the lives of many others.  On 11 September this year I reached 7 years cancer free. My mother was also diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 and is now also cancer free.

Make yourself a promise, have regular mammograms, always check the girls. Early detection is crucial.

I still have regular mammograms, ultrasounds, oncologist, and surgeon appointments.  I also take 3 different medications every day and will for the rest of my life, which is nothing because I have a long great life to look forward too.

Breast cancer Awareness - Our story

Shannon

Hi this is my story. At 34 I was a hard-working mum of 4. I was so busy working as a nurse in aged care, volunteering in the rural fire brigade, looking after my mum plus all the other things you do as a family. A friend at work who was 52 had just being diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in her left breast. Before she was having her surgery, we were all sitting in the staff room talking about it. The next week I got up for work on the Monday. Dressing for work I noticed my right nipple had a small indentation which looked like someone sliced a pie slice. Tuesday it looked a little bigger. Wednesday I was getting dressed and it looked bigger than the day before. My husband said your nipple is sinking.

At work I grabbed one of my RNS into the med room and asked her to have a look for me. She did and had a feel. She said go get it checked but it’s probably nothing. I called into the Doctors one the way home yet again the DR had a feel but stated she didn’t feel anything but rang for a mammogram and ultrasound for the next day. So Thursday I went for my appointments. The lady doing the mammogram pushed and squished then said to wait a minute. She came back and put the scan on the light and started circling three circles. She then repeated them. Then I went for the ultrasound my stomach lurched as I looked at them and knew what they were. They organised and emergency biopsy for the next day. I watched with my partner as they inserted the needle and felt so much pain ( lumps where on nerves ). I worked all weekend and waited. Monday heard nothing; Tuesday heard nothing on the Wednesday my RN rang to hurry them up. She said I had to go and see the Dr. I went and said to the DR I have ductal carcinoma. She said yes and made an appointment for the Friday with a surgeon. I drove home in shock walked into my bedroom asked my husband to come here. I grabbed him and cried my eyes out. My surgeon asked me if I know what was going to happen next. I told him double mastectomy, lymph node clearance.

Chemotherapy and possibly radiation. He said yes. I know what I have but not once did I feel sorry for myself. People asked to pray for me and I’d say yes. I had the best surgeon, hospital, pink nurse, and oncologist. I also had the most wonderful Dr. my Drs name was Doctor Peter Spitzer. He was the one who told me he would make sure I live. He did. Just after my last chemo round I had my normal vitamin B shot. He asked me how I know that I was going to live. I told him you told me I would. That was on a Friday. On the Monday I was to see him again, but he was sick. Two weeks later he died. Advanced bowel and prostate cancer. I still raised my kids. I had to work nights packing shelves at Woolworths as I had used all my leave from work and Centrelink wouldn’t help me as it wasn’t going to be a permanent disability. I was given a hat to wear at work as I wasn’t ready to wear the bald head yet.

I’m lucky. I’m alive. I’m 45. I now have to grandchildren. Brought a house My only ever question was how two staff at the same time had the same cancer, same surgeon, same oncologist, same everything. Cancer is hard, but the aftermath is hard to. Having a type of PTSD at any time when you have a pain or cough it’s always in the back of your head. A year later I decided to have transflap surgery and contracted MRSA. Every single stitch (internal and external) opened. I’m still here and that’s all I care about.

Breast cancer Awareness - Our story

Ruth

I was diagnosed stage 4 breast cancer with Mets to my liver when I was 50 … I was diagnosed after going to doctors with crampy pains in my stomach … I felt no lump in my breast … I had 5 months of chemotherapy and have been having 3 weekly immunotherapy infusion for 5 and a half years now and they continue. I am currently so grateful to have no tumours anywhere with no evidence of any active disease. I encourage everyone to get checked regularly.

This project was supported by: