How i make it work... AMY VASILIEV

AT 31, AMY WAS DI­AG­NOSED WITH AN AG­GRES­SIVE FORM OF BREAST CAN­CER. AF­TER NINE ROUNDS OF CHEMO­THER­APY, A DOU­BLE MAS­TEC­TOMY AND RE­BUILD, SHE HAS FI­NALLY LEARNT TO LOVE HER BODY AGAIN

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - David Campbell - Stel­lar picks The 2017 So­brave Breast Can­cer Fundraiser Cal­en­dar is on sale now; so­brave.com.au.

When my doc­tor told me I had breast can­cer, the world went silent. She was talk­ing, but I couldn’t hear a thing. I could feel my heart beat­ing. It got faster un­til I burst into tears. I said, “I can’t have can­cer. I’ve got small kids.” My girls were 20 months and two-and-a-half years old, and my step­daugh­ter was 11. I broke down. I said to my doc­tor, “Just cut my breasts off. I don’t care. I need to live.”

I went through nine rounds of chemo­ther­apy, two of which nearly killed me. I was vi­o­lently ill; I’ve never been so sick in my life. I had to psych my­self up for the on­slaught of chemo. My brother said to me, “Amy, you’re pretty ballsy to stand up and take this over and over again.” I had no choice.

I had re­ally long hair and got it cut into a bob be­fore I started chemo. Af­ter the first round, my hair fell out in clumps. I got in the bath one day and when I took off my head­scarf, all of my hair had fallen out. I looked in the mir­ror and sobbed. I was dif­fer­ent. I wasn’t me.

See­ing me so sick re­ally af­fected my two-year-old. She used to cry and ask, “Is Mummy go­ing to die?” That re­ally up­set me. My friends and fam­ily were the ones who got me through it. They gave me strength.

I had my dou­ble mas­tec­tomy one week be­fore Christ­mas in 2013. By that time, I just wanted it done. I handed my life over. I was on the ta­ble for six hours. I knew I was in for pain. I just kept say­ing to my­self, get up, get about, get out. And I did. In De­cem­ber I will have been in re­mis­sion for three years.

When I heard about the So­brave breast can­cer fundrais­ing cal­en­dar, I thought it was a bril­liant idea. The women, who are all un­der 40 and have bat­tled breast can­cer, were cov­ered in full body paint and pho­tographed in iconic lo­ca­tions. I hated my body for so long, un­til I saw those pho­tos of my­self [taken at The Three Sis­ters in Ka­toomba, NSW]. The cal­en­dar taught me to love my body again.

Can­cer gave me in­ner strength, taught me to slow down and made me re­alise what re­ally mat­ters. I used to worry about the house be­ing dirty; now I’d rather sit down and cud­dle my kids. If one per­son lis­tens to my story and gets their breasts checked, then I didn’t get can­cer for noth­ing.

Stroll the fra­grant al­leys of Bangkok and Jakarta with STREET FOOD ASIA by Luke Nguyen, $60; hardiegrant.com.au.

Check out the art (and views) at SCULP­TURE . Un­til Novem­ber 6 in Syd­ney; sculp­ture­bythe­sea.com.

Pick up a unique gift at the MEL­BOURNE DE­SIGN MAR­KET. Nov 6; mel­bourne de­sign­mar­ket.com.au.

Sun­days, 10am, on the Nine Net­work.

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