Lunching with a legend (and plenty of emotion)

“Yeah I can do that, I’d love to!”

That was my first reaction when one of my friends Kirsten, who is the Partnership Manager at Breast Cancer Network Australia, asked me if I’d share my story at the first BCNA Pink Lady Luncheon to be held in Perth.

I wasn’t even overawed at the thought of being introduced on stage by one of my all-time favourite sportsmen, Shane Crawford. Well, at least not right up until the moment he said my name and invited me to stand in front of over 100 people, including breast cancer survivors and those like me who were still in the midst of their ‘journey’ (still don’t like that word. In fact, I told the crowd at the luncheon that and my friend and MC Nat suggested a better term would be shit fight – and I think that sums it all up a lot more thoroughly!

This wonderful man has done a lot for BCNA and was an absolute pleasure to meet
This wonderful man has done a lot for BCNA and was an absolute pleasure to meet

BCNA chief exec Christine Nolan, me, Shane Crawford, MC Nat Locke
BCNA chief exec Christine Nolan, me, Shane Crawford, MC Nat Locke
A big crew of former Netball WA staff gathered at our table and were there to support BCNA and me as I ventured up onto the stage after an emotionally-overwhelming video showing the guts, determination and generosity inspired by Shane’s amazing bike ride from Melbourne to Perth in 2013. This wonderful soul raised over $1.3million for BCNA during that ride!

With my 'mental health' buddy Angie and Shane
With my ‘mental health’ buddy Angie and Shane

With the gorgeous Kirsten
With the gorgeous Kirsten
I have to take you back to the first moment I met Shane. He asked how I was going with my treatment and while I gave him a brief answer to my current state of play, typically the conversation turned to a bit of fun when I gave him a gift from my son Jack.

When I told Jack, an avid Hawthorn supporter, I was meeting Shane, he said “Who?”

In his defence I was pregnant with him when Shane played in the 2008 premiership with the Hawks and then retired – so he hadn’t played a game in Jack’s lifetime! He was more than impressed when I went through Shane’s football career and promptly decided that Shane would like one of Jack’s Auskick footy cards – signed of course!

In one of my favourite moments from the lunch, Shane took the card and filmed a little video thanking Jack for the card, saying “I’ll put it next to my Brownlow Medal and my premiership medal.”

It was just gorgeous and Jack was soooooo excited when I showed him.

Anyway, my turn came and I walked on stage, tissues in hand, thinking I could handle this. Eventually I did. But after another gorgeous friend, Angie, came up and held me, calmed me down and got me breathing again. I was flooded with emotion as I started to tell my story, it felt so raw. I looked out at faces, many of whom knew exactly how I was feeling. There were many knowing nods of the head.

It was an absolutely amazing event to be a part of. Getting to watch Hawthorn’s final win later that night sitting next to the great man Crawf later on was a mere bonus.

I had eight more radiotherapy treatments to go and had been for my 22nd session the morning of the luncheon. Heading to hospital every day for six weeks – that had become my new normal.

On the Radiotherapy grind - day-in, day-out
On the Radiotherapy grind – day-in, day-out
While it was monotonous going to treatment every day – generally I would drop the kids at school and head in – it only took about 30 minutes each day and I was home by about 10am. And it wasn’t even close to being as horrendous as chemo – it was relatively painless. Well it got tougher at the end when your skin looks like it’s been exposed to extreme UV light for many hours. Eventually the skin broke and got pretty sore, but nothing a good dash of paraffin and moisturiser couldn’t fix.

Anyway, that’s onemore treatment done and dusted – now we just have to plan for reconstruction (which will include a second mastectomy) and removal of ovaries. We’ll worry about all that in 2016!


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