Newspaper article Daily News (Warwick, Australia)

Sharing the Journey

Newspaper article Daily News (Warwick, Australia)

Sharing the Journey

Article excerpt

Byline: Jayden Brown

FOR three Warwick women, a brush with cancer unleashed the winds of change in their lives.

Helen McDonald, Rhonda Eather and Mary-Jane Cook shared their emotional, personal journeys with cancer at the Women of Warwick breakfast yesterday.

The six and a half in one million girl is how Helen refers to herself.

The Bunnings Warehouse worker and dog lover was diagnosed with a very rare and incurable cancer, NETs, in November last year.

NETs affects just six and half people in every one million, and is so rare that Helen was the first patient at the Condamine Medical Centre.

One day she was a fit, healthy 51-year-old and the next she was facing the toughest challenge of her life.

"Cancer I was told by the doctors; without a doubt this was the most demoralising word ever conveyed to me," she said.

"I never write cancer with a capital c, because it doesn't deserve to be a proper noun.

"Indeed, it's a frightening word to swallow and an anxious challenge to absorb proper meaning and what it really meant to my life."

Within weeks Helen endured a marathon six-hour surgery.

She spent 12 days in hospital, didn't eat for five days, lost 15kg and had to teach herself how to walk again.

When Mary-Jane Cook was 42, she went for a mammogram with her elderly mother, not expecting it would change her life for ever.

Many follow-up appointments and eight biopsies later, Mary-Jane knew something wasn't right.

She was told she would need to have a full mastectomy.

"It was sixguns at dawn. I got really aggressive. I think if I could have, I would have stripped every bit of tissue off my body and been a walking skeleton," she said.

In the end she opted to have a double mastectomy, a decision she knew she needed to make.

"Everybody's journey is different you might have exactly the same diagnosis as somebody else but feel different about the way you would prefer it to be treated," she said. …

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