Rachel was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer called Neuroendocrine Tumour in 2021. She had moved to Perth with her husband and son only six weeks earlier, and when the borders closed they found themselves cut off from their family and friends.
Originally from regional Victoria, Rachel and her family were looking forward to the lifestyle change. Rachel was looking forward to starting her new role at the company she worked for, and was working towards a leadership position. She had just started her new job when she became sick.
‘When I was first diagnosed, I was beside myself,’ said Rachel. ‘We had only just moved to Perth from Victoria – a new start for our family on the other side of the country. Telling my family and friends was heartbreaking.’
Neuroendocrine Tumours like Rachel’s aren’t usually found until stage 4. They’re classed as a triple negative cancer and are not usually found in the breast. Luckily for Rachel, her tests showed that she had no other cancers. She endured two lumpectomy surgeries before starting chemotherapy.
‘Going through treatment was so rough. I was admitted to hospital a few times and had nine blood transfusions. Ten rounds of chemo made me so sick. I had to stop because I got severe anemia. I then had 30 rounds of radiation which was so difficult on me as well as my family.’
‘I would sleep for days, only coming out to cook for my husband and son. It was the least I could do to still feel like I was me,’ she says.
‘Finding Breast Cancer Care WA was a huge relief. Not only was I struggling emotionally, but financially things were tight. I was able to access some food and fuel vouchers that took the pressure off but the support from Aileen (my counsellor) and Emily (my nurse) was of immeasurable value.’
Rachel also joined a support group, and found that speaking to other people experiencing the same emotions around their treatment was pivotal for her wellbeing.
‘Having one-on-one support and friendship from people who understood what I was feeling was life-changing, Rachel explains.
Like many breast cancer survivors, Rachel looks to the future with trepidation. As she recovers, making the most of her time with her family is a priority, as is working towards the career goals she’d set herself before her diagnosis.
Your support helps to provide people like Rachel to navigate the fear around their breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.
‘People deal with illness in different ways,’ she says. ‘I felt like a lot of people didn’t know what to do when I got cancer. And that’s ok, we’re all different, but I still needed support. Some things need to be handled by the professionals and the wealth of knowledge and experience that comes with that.
‘Your donations help people (the professionals) support the people in need. I really needed that, and I think that’s what Breast Cancer Care WA provides.’