Lea was diagnosed with breast cancer just after her 55th birthday. She had started experiencing breathlessness, and went to see her GP when her left breast began to swell. She was sent straight to the hospital emergency department.
Lea underwent a mastectomy, 4 months of chemotherapy, 5 weeks of daily radiotherapy and 17 cycles of target therapy.
‘There were times when I wanted to give up, but my boys would say, “just one more.” They kept me going when I thought I had nothing left to give.’
As wife, working mother and stepmother, Lea found herself worrying constantly. Even though she had lived in Perth for a long time, she was still supporting her family at home in the Philippines as well.
Following her surgery, Lea was introduced to Breast Cancer Care WA (BCCWA) by her friend and fellow breast cancer survivor, Vernie.
‘It was there I met Karen, who became my incredible breast care nurse,’ says Lea. ‘She helped me work through the endless medical information, took me to appointments helped me understand what was happening and what to expect. We had countless phone calls. Karen also referred me to Jacqui for counselling support.
‘How I appreciate those women and the impact they have had on my wellbeing. I was offered cleaning assistance and food and fuel vouchers. This was such a blessing as it was Christmas time and because I had to stop working the vouchers really helped. The gesture of helping to put something on the table gave us just such joy and happiness.
‘The counselling sessions, the support groups and online meetings were absolutely remarkable and it made such a difference just knowing they were there for me.’
In November 2021, Lea received the news that she was cancer free. She finished her final treatment in January 2022.
Lea has returned to work, and continues to access BCCWA’s services to cope with the impact of cancer and navigate life after treatment.
‘Returning to work is one achievement I’ve done after treatment. Not full time yet, as my body can’t handle long hours at the moment. Being around my work colleagues and interacting with them has boosted my morale. They’re all very supportive and welcoming,’ says Lea.
Navigating survivorship is extremely challenging, and Lea is building her physical and emotional strength using her faith, physical exercise and BCCWA’s survivorship workshops.
‘I have to accept the fact that my body is recuperating from [the] gruelling treatment that I have been through,’ she explains.
To our generous community of donors, Lea has this message to share with you: ‘your generous support to [BCCWA] is highly appreciated and all the recipients like myself will be forever grateful.’