SPIRIT NOT DENTED

ME - - Pink Ribbon Day 2015 -

STORY: SHARON WRIGHT PIC­TURES: RAY SIZER pril Fools’ Day, 2015 will for­ever be etched in Lynda Del­lar’s mind. It was the day the 62-year-old Tatura res­i­dent was told by staff at St Vin­cent’s Hospi­tal, Mel­bourne that she had a grade two can­cer in a milk duct in her right breast. Lynda was no stranger to can­cer; five of her seven sib­lings have suc­cumbed to var­i­ous forms of the dis­ease in­clud­ing one sis­ter Pam, who lost her bat­tle with breast can­cer at age 65. “Once Pam was di­ag­nosed I started hav­ing mam­mo­grams ev­ery two years from the age of 40. This time I re­ceived a let­ter say­ing to come to Mel­bourne for a fol­low-up, they tell you nine out of 10 who get a call-back are fine,” Lynda said. Un­for­tu­nately Lynda was “the one” and three weeks later un­der­went surgery to re­move two ar­eas of her breast and a lymph node from her un­der­arm, fol­lowed by four rounds of chemo­ther­apy over three months and five weeks of ra­dio­ther­apy, con­clud­ing on Fri­day, Septem­ber 18. “I would never have found it with­out the mam­mo­gram, even the spe­cial­ist who checked me the day be­fore surgery

A couldn’t feel it; the can­cer was so deep,” Lynda said. Fiercely in­de­pen­dent and al­ways ac­tive, Lynda, a mother of three and grand­mother of five, was un­pre­pared for the over­whelm­ing lethargy that came with her treat­ment. “I worked full-time and when I wasn’t work­ing I was bak­ing or do­ing some­thing. To go from that to strug­gling to get out of bed some days was hard,” Lynda said. Hus­band Rod­ney took long ser­vice leave from work to care for her, and fam­ily and friends were an in­valu­able sup­port. “I had so many texts, phone calls and vis­its, one of the girls I worked with made me a beau­ti­ful book with pho­tos of my grand­chil­dren and room for dates and ap­point­ments. I couldn’t be­lieve some­one would do that for me, usu­ally it’s me that fluffs around over oth­ers,” Lynda said. That gen­er­ous na­ture saw Lynda shave her head, only months be­fore her own di­ag­no­sis to raise funds for the Nam­bour Gen­eral Hospi­tal on­col­ogy unit in Queens­land, which cared for her sis­ter Val, prior to her death from lung can­cer. Her can­cer ex­pe­ri­ence hasn’t dented her spirit or will­ing­ness to help oth­ers. “I would love to be able to en­cour­age work­places to get their staff to put a dol­lar or two away each week so that when some­one goes through, not just can­cer but any se­ri­ous ill­ness, they can hand over $500 to pay a bill or buy a wig,” Lynda said. “Now that I’ve been through it I would also like to look into ways of help­ing peo­ple get cheaper wigs, which is a prac­ti­cal way of help­ing peo­ple with can­cer.”

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