Last week I went to the #thinkdrinkpink Rose Revolution lunch supporting Chicks in Pink, where I met Christine Lynn (pictured on her last day of chemo on Melbourne Cup Day). Christine spoke about being a breast cancer survivor. I loved her story, her positivity and her courage in sharing her journey so far. I asked if I could please publish her speech on my blog, and she kindly agreed, so here it is:
Hello my name is Christine Lynn, and I am thrilled to be able to tell my story. I am a fortunate woman who has faced Breast Cancer and can stand here to share my story. My new life is like spring to me. When it was suggested to wear PINK today, I realised that I had rid my wardrobe of all PINK. Any one who has been diagnosed with Breast Cancer will know that as soon as you hear the diagnosis your life becomes inundated with PINK.
Today I dressed for spring to reflect my new life and new beginning with just a touch of Pink to remind me that yes I have had Breast Cancer and it has touched my life but it is only a small part of who I am.
At the time of diagnosis I was a divorcee and employed in the administration side of Breast Screen Qld. At Aged 50 my 2 children were self sufficient, out exploring the world, my pay packet was my own for the first time.
I had a full happy life, dancing 4 times a week & socialising with girlfriends.
Only 6 months before I had bought my own inner city townhouse within walking distance of work. I planned a once in a lifetime world trip with a child hood girl friend.
About 6 weeks before the trip I found a lump in my breast (just a hard little button easy to ignore really, not even sore.) I knew I had to have it checked out even though it was a bit early for my regular screening. When I was asked to return I said “No – Not for 10 days. I was going to a Rock N Roll Festival at Coolangatta and I was going to dance, dance, dance.”
I think I knew in my heart then that I had breast cancer.
When I returned for the investigation my daughter came with me for support.
Sitting in the waiting room Natalie said “Mum, if 1 in 7 women get breast cancer then some one here will probably have bad news today”. I did not think that was us, until the room started to empty. My mind raced. I had watched my father die of bowel cancer and go through chemotherapy and vowed never to have chemotherapy myself.
When we were called in I was told I definitely had breast cancer and needed to take action immediately and book in with a surgeon.
My daughter and I went to the car park. Natalie had taken time out of her busy schedule to be with me. I sat in the car for a moment, while she walked away to phone and cancel the rest of her day’s appointments. It was then, I heard her wail like a wounded animal. I then knew I would have chemotherapy or anything that was offered to rid my self of cancer. I wanted more life and I owed it to my children to fight for it.
Now I am a person who plans their life and sets goals. I thought I had every scenario covered. I bought shares for the children and called them wedding shares. I took out a mortgage on a house at the Sunshine coast so I could retire near my sister. I planned exactly what year I would retire and what year I could afford to replace my car. The road was all mapped out.
Well I did not plan for breast cancer and this bump in the road sent me spinning off course.
It put me in a state where I was not game to plan one day in advance.
I was fortunate to have a wonderful medical team. My daughter and sister came to all my appointments as I had stopped comprehending what was being said to me. My family were a fantastic support and I cherish them always.
I never asked why me? I guess I feel why not me, when so many women get breast cancer. The only time I really remember getting cross was when my Oncologist told me my veins had collapsed and I had to have a pic line put in my arm. For those who don’t know what that is. It is like 3 vials hanging out of your arm with a bandage around it. Not glamorous at all. I scolded the Dr. and said “You have not taken into account that I am a single woman”. When he asked what I meant I said “It is hard enough getting a date bald let alone with this thing in my arm”. He was flabbergasted.
With the support of my family, many friends and medical staff, I made it through the surgery and then 18 weeks of chemo therapy.
I was very conscious to keep my son informed as to my progress. Just because it was girly bits I did not want him to feel excluded. I needed him to be close too.
Not all things were bad. With my children grown, I never thought we would be under the same roof together again but cancer bought us back huddled and supporting each other. Both my son and daughter put their lives and loves and travel plans on hold to be with me. My sister slept many a night on my floor just in case I woke up in the night and felt sad. I have an open fire place and we sat around the fire telling all the, remember when stories and laughing. I now feel so blessed to have had those times.
Then came 30 radium treatments. This was a very difficult time for me.
While all this was going on my children were falling in LOVE. My daughter to a kind, gentle natured man and my son to a beautiful joyful Brazilian woman he had met on a Contiki tour in Europe. My son was trying to work on his relationship via Skype on the computer in my bedroom (just as well I don’t speak Portuguese), while Dean was down stairs wooing my daughter by the fire. That townhouse has seen it all, happy, sad, sick and lots of love.
When you have cancer your life is never the same. I mourned the loss of my old life for a long time. I found the fatigue debilitating. I had to give up work and dancing.
Then one day I just woke up and started to plan again. New life, new plans.
I got to meet and love my son’s girlfriend Vanessa.
In the January floods this year it was with great pride my ex husband & I walked our daughter down the isle when she married her love, Dean.
Thanks to my girlfriends pushing and pulling me on to an internet dating site. I too got to meet a wonderful man and fall in love.
No, I don’t have my old life, but now I am planning a new life with a special man beside me.
There are just some things in life you can’t plan and maybe that’s a good thing.
I hope you have enjoyed me sharing my journey with you. It has been 3years and 5 months since the day I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. There is a lot of research to be had before a cure can be found. I thank you for your generosity today.