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Sterryn Roycroft is still waiting to wake up from her nightmare.
The 38-year-old mother of two found out only three weeks ago she had terminal breast cancer, and she hadn't had any of the usual symptoms.
It started around three months ago when she noticed a rash on her side, which her doctor said was just an inflammation.
It proved to be pretty stubborn. She was also feeling fatigued and had become jaundiced so Roycroft went to another doctor.
After an ultrasound looking for suspected gallstones, they found lesions on her liver.
The next day a CT scan found the tumours.
"They sat us down and said it's cancer, it's here, here and there, and it's terminal," Roycroft says.
It was a shock for the Gulf Harbour resident, who had gone for a mammogram and had several breast exams in the past 18 months with nothing unusual picked up.
One of the tumours is at the back of her breast tissue, far enough away to be unnoticed by a mammogram, and another has broken one of her ribs.
Doctors suspect the rash was from tumours breaking blood vessels.
Roycroft started chemotherapy last week, which doctors hope will shrink the tumours so she can make the most of the time she has with her family.
Husband Ray says they are keeping a good attitude.
"Sterryn is one of the strongest people I know," he says. "And staying positive can go a long way."
Before the diagnosis Roycroft didn't know much more about breast cancer than the average person does.
Now, in a period of six days, she knows everything she needs to know about the cancer inside her.
She wants people to know something can be seriously wrong, even without the usual symptoms.
"If you have any concerns follow it up, get answers, be vigilant," she says. "The symptoms you get told about don't always show up. Get a second opinion if you're not happy.
"I've heard lots of women over the years saying how horrible mammograms are, but it's just a tiny bit of discomfort.
" It's nothing compared to what I face now."
A Givealittle page has been set up by her friend Tanya Rowell to support Roycroft and her family as she goes through treatment.
The money donated will go towards treatment costs and other unexpected expenses.
Roycroft says her friends, community and the Whangaparaoa Baptist church have all rallied to help.
"They've all done so much. I'm astounded and humbled at the amount of care we've received, we are so lucky," she says.
Visit givealittle.co.nz/cause/HopeForSterryn to donate to the family.
- Rodney Times
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