'I won't leave my kids without a mum'

Last updated 12:30 16/01/2014

How has breast cancer affected your life?

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I'm a single mum with three kids.

At the age of 45 I was diagnosed with breast cancer at my first mammogram. What a shock!

I am a determined, strong woman and was never going to let it beat me. I was not going to leave my kids without a mum.

I went through initial surgery to remove what turned out to be five tumours and all of the lymph nodes on my right side. I then went through six months of horrendous chemotherapy.

Once I'd recovered from that I had a mastectomy to remove my right breast and then a course of radiotherapy. I'm in the midst of a long wait for what I hope will be my last surgery - a reconstruction.

The public health system was amazing and throughout my urgent treatments and surgeries there was never any delay. Everything was rushed through.

I'm not as happy about having to wait for a reconstruction because I'm single and it's impacting on my life, but I do appreciate that other people require urgent surgery ahead of me.

I appreciate also how strong my kids were throughout it all and they gave me the strength to keep fighting. We always were a close-knit little family but are even more so now.

They saw me so sick and no child should see a parent like that - it was so much of a worry for them.

They took turns coming to chemotherapy with me and it was good for me to have them there, but also good for them to see the process rather than just guessing what I was going through.

I now have five years of three-monthly checkups and am on tamoxifen every day for possibly the next 10 years. The chances of cancer returning is high but I'm not going to let that thought ruin the second chance at life I've now been given.

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