Kate's Story


Sadly, my story is not unique, and I was the unlucky one in seven women to be diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2021.

Every day approximately five West Australians are diagnosed with breast cancer and in 2022 breast cancer was estimated to be the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia. When I was diagnosed, I was physically at my fittest, and had just competed in the Margaret River Ultra Marathon team event, where I had run 30km of the 80km track. Before the event, I had been for my routine 2-yearly mammogram, which I had done diligently, for the past decade. When I received the call back to go for more testing, I thought nothing more of it. Having “dense” breast tissue it was common for me to be called back to have an ultrasound and get the all clear. However, this time, that didn’t happen. Over a 3-week period and after a series of tests, biopsies and appointments in hospital, I heard the words every woman fears:

“I’m afraid Kate, you have breast cancer and it appears to have spread”

Having a family of my husband and our two beautiful boys, then aged 12 and 9 years old, I went into fight mode. We met with my incredible surgeon, late in the afternoon on 29 June 2021 only to be told I would be having a mastectomy the very next morning! The next few weeks were an absolute blur (all during COVID) and sadly my stage 3 cancer had not only completely filled my left breast but it had spread into my lymph nodes. After a second surgery, I underwent four months of gruelling chemotherapy which literally killed me from the inside out. But, I was very grateful to be alive!

It was during my time in hospital that I first learnt about Breast Cancer Care WA and the amazing free individualised breast care nursing, counselling, financial and practical support they were able to provide. This amazing service is offered to anyone living in Western Australia who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, including their loved ones. After my surgeries and once I returned home, I attended one of the support groups, run by Breast Cancer Care WA, for women going through roughly the same treatment and journey as me. It was one of the best things I did. To be surrounded by women going through what I was going through was incredible. I felt I was not alone, not going quietly mad!, and could laugh, cry and relate to the stories we were all sharing. I also got to make some incredible friendships from this group, some of whom I am still in touch with today.

I was very public with my breast cancer journey on social media and reminded people to not be complacent about having their routine checks, because if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. I look back on this now and can’t believe I shared what I did but I have no regrets! The number of people who got in contact, thanking me for sharing my story and prompting them to get checked, made it all worthwhile.

The physical and emotional changes and challenges during this journey, have at times, been incredibly difficult. I have been so lucky to be surrounded by my amazing network of family and friends, who have supported not only me but my family. There have been many highs and many lows during this time. I can still remember very clearly crying for my old self as I was going through chemotherapy and wondering if she was ever coming back. I cried for our beautiful boys who were seeing their mother at her best and worst. And I cried for my husband who no doubt missed his old wife.

During this time, I was so grateful to be put in touch with my amazing Breast Cancer Care WA counsellor, Aileen. I saw Aileen nearly weekly in the early stages and to be able to cry, laugh, let out, be angry with, you name it! To talk to someone who is not family or friends, but who works with women like me, every day, and gets it, was amazing. I feel so indebted to Aileen who helped me get out of the black holes I sometimes fell in and helped me accept the “new” me – physically and mentally.

I was diagnosed with hormone positive breast cancer so as a result am on hormone blocking medication for 5-10years. The side effects of this medication have, at times, taken a toll on me. Unfortunately, I endure joint pain daily, which initially made it very difficult for me to get back into my daily routine. I am now over 24-months out of chemotherapy and I am learning to live with these changes and manage my pain daily.

People often think that the journey stops when chemotherapy does, but for me and so many others, the journey just keeps going. In July this year, I will in fact be undergoing major surgery again, as am experiencing ongoing pain and issues with my mastectomy and reconstruction, nearly 3 years later. This first operation (one of three) will see me back in hospital for about a week and then out of action for about 4-6 weeks. Unfortunately, private health insurance only covers a very small amount of this so not only will I be unable to work again in my own small business, but my family will also need to find over $14,000 for the first surgery.

It still amazes me today, that this silent killer, that I had no warning of, has left my body so changed and, in such pain, even though it has been removed. Thankfully, though, I have always been a glass-half-full kind of gal, and I am determined for not only myself, but also my family, that breast cancer won’t define me.

We are sisters (and brothers) from other mothers and misters but we are a “hood” and we have to stick together and support each other. Our code must be to put our health first. The greatest piece of advice I can give you is to not be complacent but to have all your checks when they are due -breast, cervix, bowel, skin, prostate, you name it.

I turned 50 in October last year and I’m here to stay and to give cancer the big A! Because life is for living right!?

The volunteering hours that you put in are so appreciated and as a result, proceeds from fundraising events that you volunteer at and support, go directly to BCCWA to help woman (and families) just like me. For that, I am forever grateful. Thank you.