Lucky catch for can­cer pa­tient

Dalby Herald - - NEWS -

DALBY res­i­dents are about 6 per cent more likely to get can­cer but res­i­dent Barb Han­d­ley says the news isn’t as bad as it sounds.

Mrs Han­d­ley strug­gled through a bout of breast can­cer and a dou­ble mas­tec­tomy years ago but said she had ac­cess to world-class fa­cil­i­ties and doc­tors about an hour’s drive away in Toowoomba.

It was the per­sis­tence of those doc­tors that en­sured her can­cer was caught in time af­ter she came up all clear in a mam­mo­gram and ul­tra­sound.

Through a mam­mo­gram years ago it was dis­cov­ered that Mrs Han­d­ley had dense, lumpy breast tis­sue, so de­spite not hav­ing a fam­ily his­tory of breast can­cer, the find­ing in­creased her risks of get­ting the deadly dis­ease.

She be­gan go­ing in for an­nual mam­mo­grams and ul­tra­sounds at St An­drew’s Hos­pi­tal in Toowoomba.

De­spite re­ceiv­ing a neg­a­tive re­sult dur­ing one of those an­nual screen­ings, Mrs Han­d­ley had a nag­ging feel­ing about some dis­charge in one breast that turned out to be com­pletely un­re­lated.

She went back to her GP, who rec­om­mended she see a sur­geon.

Next thing she knew she was dis­cussing treat­ment op­tions for a num­ber of both ma­lig­nant and benign tu­mours the sur­geon dis­cov­ered.

“Once they take out a tu­mour, they like to cre­ate a wider mar­gin around it, so that was an­other surgery,” Mrs Han­d­ley said.

“That came back that I had more can­cer and the first thought that went through my head was my mother telling me that if you have to do some­thing, you have to do it well and now I’ve done this can­cer thing so thor­oughly.”

Af­ter that it was reg­u­lar trips back to Toowoomba to have the sur­gi­cal sites drained and her wounds checked.

While it was a scary time for Mrs Han­d­ley and her hus­band, Richard, she said it would have been down­right ter­ri­fy­ing if they still lived out west as they did when they were younger.

She said she also didn’t envy lo­cal can­cer pa­tients with­out fam­ily sup­port or ad­e­quate ac­cess to trans­port.

❝back That came that I had more can­cer... — Barb Han­d­ley

PHOTO: MICHAEL DOYLE

STAY­ING STRONG: It is not all doom and gloom for can­cer pa­tients be­ing close to great fa­cil­i­ties in Toowoomba, ac­cord­ing to Barb Han­d­ley.

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