‘I FELT SILLY EVEN BRING­ING IT UP’

An­nalise Har­vey, 33, lives in NSW and feels grate­ful for her life every day

Cosmopolitan (Australia) - - Ycc Wrap-up -

‘No mat­ter how busy life gets, your health comes first’

I GREW up in Tas­ma­nia, and af­ter I grad­u­ated with a Bach­e­lor of Biomed­i­cal Sci­ence, I moved to Syd­ney and worked in a pathol­ogy lab in a hos­pi­tal. When I was di­ag­nosed, I took six months off work for treat­ment. This taught me an im­por­tant les­son – no mat­ter how busy life gets, at the end of the day, your health comes first.

I felt a lump in my breast one day, but as­sumed it was noth­ing as it felt quite large. I ra­tio­nalised that I don’t have any fam­ily history and I was 27, so surely it couldn’t have been any­thing se­ri­ous!

I waited nearly two months be­fore I spoke to a doc­tor. I made an ap­point­ment to see a GP as I thought I had a si­nus in­fec­tion, and while I was with the doc­tor, the lump crossed my mind. I de­cided to men­tion it, but first said to the doc­tor that I felt silly even bring­ing it up and was sure it was noth­ing. Luck­ily the doc­tor told me it was never silly to get any­thing checked and wrote me a re­fer­ral to an ul­tra­sound cen­tre. I went for the ul­tra­sound the next day, but was told the lump was nor­mal, was just a hor­monal change and did not re­quire fur­ther test­ing.

I took these re­sults to my reg­u­lar GP, who sug­gested that as hor­mones can be re­spon­si­ble for changes in breast tis­sue, I should re­turn for a sec­ond ul­tra­sound at a dif­fer­ent imag­ing cen­tre.

This ul­tra­sound was very dif­fer­ent. The tech­ni­cian called the ra­di­ol­o­gist in dur­ing the ul­tra­sound. I could tell they were con­cerned. They asked me to visit my doc­tor the next day for my re­sults. I col­lected my re­sults from the imag­ing cen­tre, and they de­scribed the lump as sus­pi­cious and rec­om­mended

I had an ur­gent biopsy. While wait­ing to speak to my GP, I burst into tears in the wait­ing room and was ush­ered into the treat­ment room to wait. By the time I saw her, she had al­ready made me an ap­point­ment to see a breast sur­geon that af­ter­noon, who ar­ranged a biopsy that day.

It was a Fri­day. By Mon­day, I knew it was can­cer.

It has been nearly five years now since I was di­ag­nosed. I am in a very good place – I am with an amaz­ing part­ner, I have a great job that I en­joy and we travel of­ten.

I still get a lit­tle ner­vous some­times, par­tic­u­larly around my an­nual check­ups, but I’m lucky that I have great doc­tors, nurses and sup­port. I’m not afraid to ask for help if I need it and have had some coun­selling.

The big­gest les­son I learnt is not to stress the small stuff. When

I feel the daily stresses of life creep in, I try to re­mem­ber how lucky and grate­ful I am. It gets hard to do some­times, but feel­ing thank­ful for the peo­ple around you and feel­ing healthy and strong is so im­por­tant.

In Aus­tralia, around 74 women in their 20s will be di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer each year.

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