Maria was about to turn fifty when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. There were no symptoms, no lump, no warning, nothing. She had been having regular mammograms since she was 40 and even her GP was regularly checking her breast health.

My diagnosis came as a total shock!I was convinced I was going to die, and this was the beginning. How could I put into words what was happening? How could I tell my daughters? My husband? My mum? We are a very close family, and telling them was by far the hardest thing I have ever done.

Maria’s cancer has spread to her lymph nodes . She had her breast and lymph nodes removed in one go followed by months of chemotherapy and radiation. It took its toll both physically and emotionally.

I thought I would be relieved when the months of daily treatments finally ended but I just felt lost and cried all the time. I was scared and constantly wondered if it had worked. Would I be around to see my girls get married and have children?

Luckily a nurse saw Maria struggling and put her in contact with Breast Cancer Care WA. She received counselling, joined a support group and even her husband joined the partner’s support group.

I will never forget that first phone call with Jacqui, one of their incredible Counsellors. She was so calm and reassuring, and I just cried and cried. She has been in it for the long haul, talking me through countless worries and further surgery decisions. Knowing she is just a phone call away is incredibly reassuring.

Through her support group, Maria has made friends with other incredible women who were going through breast cancer. This solidarity and support has changed her outlook and opened up new opportunities. Maria is now a proud volunteer with Breast Cancer Care WA and happy to give back for some of the incredible support she has received.

Whilst Maria was lucky to have her wonderful family by her side, there are many women and single mums going it alone. Thanks to the generosity of the West Australian public, we can be here for them – to offer the support they need, when they need it, for as long as they need it, free of charge.

I honestly don’t think many women would have made it without the practical help they got from Breast Cancer Care WA.