When young mum Sarah Baxter first showed her two-year-old son, Calvin, the results of her double mastectomy, he looked at her with great concern on his little face. “Mummy your nipples are broken,” he said. Sarah told him, “Mate, yeah they are. They’re gone now.” And he leaned in to kiss her scars better, “Because they were sore”.
There are so many unexpected challenges that come with a breast cancer diagnosis. And that’s on top of the overwhelming challenges of treatment.
Sarah was able to take on all those challenges – including finding the right way to talk to her young children – thanks to the incredible support of her McGrath Breast Care Nurse, Rikki.
With two kids under three, Sarah’s sudden breast cancer diagnosis came with a barrage of life-changing decisions that affected her whole family.
Treatment for her type of cancer would normally involve a lumpectomy, but Sarah had family history. Both her mum and her aunt had breast cancer twice.
“I had to decide whether to get a double mastectomy,” explains Sarah.
“I’d only just stopped breastfeeding and was still emotionally attached to my breasts. I had a horrendous time making that decision. I was a mess.” Sarah says the support she received from Rikki, her McGrath Breast Care Nurse, was invaluable.
“Rikki was there for my very first appointment with the breast surgeon. She made sure I was happy with my decision, talked about the surgery itself and how it would affect me at home,” Sarah says. “I wouldn’t be able to lift my baby for two months, which had a huge impact on our family.”
“Rikki knew all the medical and clinical implications and could explain it in a way that made sense. She could answer all my questions.”
It turned out to be the right decision for Sarah. The mastectomy revealed more aggressive cancer cells which may not have been picked up by the lumpectomy.
McGrath Breast Care Nurses are highly experienced, specialist registered nurses, and many have post-graduate qualifications. They provide total physical and emotional support for people dealing with breast cancer, while also helping plan and coordinate all their clinical management and specialist services.
Each nurse manages each patient’s care, working in partnership with the surgeon, oncologists, cancer care coordinators, community care nurses and palliative care hospital staff, amongst others. They are there from diagnosis right through treatment to survivorship. All for free. With no referral required. Even in regional and rural areas.
So many families like Sarah’s still urgently need this kind of expert support. Today alone, around 53 Australians will be told they have breast cancer. That’s more than 19,000 people every year.
By helping fund McGrath Breast Care Nurses, you’ll be making a tangible contribution to the quality of care and quality of life for families dealing with breast cancer.
But by helping fund McGrath Breast Care Nurses, you’ll be making a tangible contribution to the quality of care and quality of life for families dealing with breast cancer. And not just one, either. One McGrath Breast Care Nurse like Rikki supports up to 100 families every year. That’s 100 families like Sarah’s who desperately need expert help to navigate the medical choices, to manage their treatment, and to cope with all the many complex uncertainties of breast cancer.
“I would have been so lost and confused without Rikki. She gave me confidence in my decisions. I’m so incredibly grateful she was there to support me.”
Consider a special gift this festive season to help people with breast cancer like Sarah. Together we can make a difference. Donate today!