‘MY PERFECT WORLD CAME CRASHING DOWN’
Amy Vasilie, 37, from NSW refused to let cancer take her sense of humour
In 1982, there were 5,000 breast cancer cases in Australia In 2018, an estimated 18,000 will be diagnosed. ‘I knew I was going to fight it with everything I had’
I WAS diagnosed at the age of 31. I had an 11yearold step daughter, a twoandahalfyearold and a 22monthold. Our family was complete and we were onto the next stage of our lives, raising our family and looking forward to a bright future together.
I was so happy, and I recall saying to my husband one day, ‘life is perfect’. Then I was diagnosed with cancer and my entire world came crashing down. I didn’t know if
I was going to make it through, but I knew I was going to fight it with everything I had, because I couldn’t bear the thought of my kids growing up without their mum.
Due to family history, I would check my breasts at the start of every month. On ANZAC Day 2013, I had a shower and noticed a lump on my left breast and went to see a GP. After a series of scans, my GP confirmed I had cancer. I was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of ductal carcinoma. I sat there, completely numb. I was in complete shock and disbelief. My perfect world had come crashing down around me.
I was diagnosed on the Friday and on the Monday I was seeing the breast surgeon who sent me for various tests to see if the cancer had spread. These tests took a couple of weeks, but thankfully the cancer hadn’t spread.
I struggled to keep it together and would often spend my days crying. I couldn’t even tuck my kids into bed without sobbing. I kept thinking, What if this time next year I’m dead and I’m not here to tuck them into bed? They won’t remember who
I am. I tried to stay positive, but it was very hard.
I had a double mastectomy, and chemotherapy plus Herceptin as my cancer was hormonerelated. I had recovered from the operation and started the first of nine rounds of chemotherapy a month later. I finished all my treatment in August 2014.
I feel incredibly blessed to have such amazing friends and family. My close friends decided that every month we would host a special event. One month we even had crazy wig night. The one thing cancer couldn’t take was my sense of humour.
For those who are watching a loved one go through this, be patient and supportive. If you don’t know what to say, then say exactly that. It doesn’t matter how small the gesture, if someone is sick it will still give them a boost. I had so many people who couldn’t visit but would cheer me on with text messages or messages on Facebook or writing letters. When you’re sick, you feel so alone. It’s nice to know people care.