BREAST cancer survivor Cheryl Charity is a voice of strength and hope when it comes to this horrible disease.
She wants to tell those facing breast cancer that many people care and want to support them.
The Sanctuary Point resident knows breast cancer treatment has advanced greatly over the years and has given people hope and life.
Mrs Charity also wants to tell everyone – sufferers, survivors, carers, children and many others facing breast cancer about the Mother’s Day Classic at Voyager Park, Huskisson on Sunday, May 13.
The Husky walk/run is in its second year and Mrs Charity said one of its aims was to highlight the number of people affected by breast cancer.
“There are so many people who, not only have had breast cancer, but they know somebody who has. It’s a real epidemic – it really is,” she said.
People can either walk three kilometres or enjoy a six-kilometre run.
However, Mrs Charity said the event was more than just a walk or a run.
There will be face painting, hair spraying, raffles, prizes for best/funniest dressed and a prize for the first and last finisher.
There will be a tribute wall where people can leave a message or even a photo.
“It’s just wonderful to pay tribute to someone who has passed over from breast cancer,” Mrs Charity said.
The fun run starts about 8.30am and the walk starts at 9.30am.
“So it’s a couple of hours to get people together and we are selling Mothers Day flowers as well,” Mrs Charity said.
People can also make a donation.
Last year 200 people took part and organisers hope to get at least 400 people at this year’s event.
The St Georges Basin SES is helping out by supplying volunteers.
Funds raised go to National Breast Cancer Foundation.
Mrs Charity said funds raised should go to finding out why so many women are still getting breast cancer.
Go to: http://www.mothersdayclassic.com.au/events/event-map/huskisson/# for information on the walk.
Mrs Charity faces cancer
Mrs Charity, speaking from first-hand experience, said the good news was breast cancer is no longer a death sentence.
She was diagnosed eight years ago and had no history of breast cancer in her family.
“It came as an absolute shock to me,” she said.
“I am a pretty determined and motivated person and I thought, ‘I will get through this’, but I think a lot of that comes from the support you have, and things like the Mother's Day Classic are a great support.”
She said all breast cancer nurses were also great support.
Breast cancer statistics: Source Breast Cancer Network Australia (above)
Mrs Charity suggested one mammogram a year was not enough and recommended women self-check for lumps.
“I woke up one morning and thought it has been a while since I self-tested and I did one. I found a rock hard lump,” she said.
She had a mammogram 10 months earlier and nothing showed up.
Mrs Charity had to have a lumpectomy and at first, the signs were that cancer had not spread to her lymph nodes. But five days later she was told the test had come back positive.
Facing chemotherapy and radiotherapy
Mrs Charity ended up having two surgeries, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
“[Chemo] is quite an ordeal and you don’t have any idea what you are in for until you are doing it,” Mrs Charity said.
The treatment also took Mrs Charity’s hair.
“You just hope it comes back again and it does come back. It comes back curly which really weird, so I had an afro and very grey hair,” she said.
The treatment was intense and she had six rounds of chemotherapy and 36 of radiotherapy.
Her advice to others facing chemotherapy was to get as much information from their doctors as possible.
She tried to be positive about the treatment but like everyone she has her bad days.
Mrs Charity, during her down days, drew on her support network which included her supportive husband, John and she added there were people in a worse position than her.
“When you see others [when going through treatment] worse off than yourself you get a reality check,” she said.
She suggested people set goals to achieve and hers was to travel with John, which they did for 12 months.