With a family history of breast cancer and a survivor herself, Leanne is an advocate for cancer screening and testing.
“My mum had breast cancer when she was 50 years old and so every year I was religious about having mammograms and ultrasounds.”
Leanne underwent a routine visit in November 2013 but in March 2014 found a large-sized lump in her breast.
“My husband and I spoke about it and we wondered whether we should get it tested as it hadn’t been long after the November visit.”
With her mother’s diagnosis in her mind, an agonising week-long wait revealed what Leanne feared most. A biopsy confirmed Leanne had an aggressive form of breast cancer.
“I had a lumpectomy done but when the results came back the margins weren’t big enough so a mastectomy was the next step. I had always said that if one breast had to be removed then so would the other.”
After convincing her doctor of her decision, the Taree local underwent a double mastectomy.
“Surgery was a nightmare but so were six months of chemotherapy.”
Towards the end of her treatment, Leanne was dealt another blow when she was forced to undergo surgery to remove her appendix.
“I then had six months of Herceptin (a drug used to treat HER2+ metastatic breast cancer) and last December I began my radiotherapy treatment which was five days a week for five weeks.”
Leanne finished all treatments in June this year. Her hair is slowly growing back and she is waiting for breast reconstruction which should take place before March 2016. But it is all not plain sailing.
“I still have lymphedema (a side effect of breast cancer surgery and radiotherapy that causes localised fluid retention and tissue swelling) in my left hand. I have also had one PET scan that has found I have cysts on ovaries so that is being checked out.”
Leanne encourages all women to be aware of their bodies and see a GP if there are any changes.
Get in touch with the friendly team at Cancer Council NSW to talk about cancer prevention, screening and testing today.