Ul­ti­mate war­rior Can­cer fight in­spires mum’s stun­ning makeover

Sunday Tasmanian - - News - ANNE MATHER

EVEN with­out the body­paint, Robyn Sut­cliffe is a war­rior.

The Tas­ma­nian woman has sur­vived breast can­cer and is ad­vo­cat­ing for other young women to be fear­less.

The 33-year-old un­der­went a fi­nal round of post­cancer surgery last week — a mile­stone that co­in­cided with the launch of a na­tional fundrais­ing cal­en­dar she is in.

“I want to put a spot­light on the fact many young women get breast can­cer, be­cause this is just not talked about,” she said.

“I want to make sure young women are armed with the right in­for­ma­tion to ad­vo­cate for any test­ing they may need.”

The Devon­port mum is in full body­paint and stand­ing war­rior-like in the 2019 cal­en­dar, which is a fundrais­ing ini­tia­tive of So Brave – Aus­tralia’s young women’s breast can­cer char­ity.

Mrs Sut­cliffe, be­low, said the body­paint de­sign was a sym­bolic de­pic­tion of how she faced the chal­lenge of can­cer. “For me it was about faith, fam­ily and science com­ing to­gether to do their bit,” she said.

Her chest is adorned with a tra­di­tional med­i­cal sym­bol, but the snake is coiled around a cru­ci­fix in­stead of the usual sword. “That shows how I coped,” Mrs Sut­cliffe said.

The paint­work took eight hours, dur­ing which time Mrs Sut­cliffe could not sit down and was not al­lowed to look in a mir­ror.

She did not see the fi­nal im­age un­til the cal­en­dar launch last week.

“I cried when I saw it, I was so emo­tional. I had my fi­nal surgery on Mon­day too, so this is a beau­ti­ful way to end this chap­ter.”

Mrs Sut­cliffe was only 30 when she was di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer.

“Shortly af­ter my 30th birth­day I no­ticed a lump in my breast while feed­ing my five-month-old daugh­ter,” she said.

Mrs Sut­cliffe’s mother, who works for Breast­Screen Tas­ma­nia, en­cour­aged her daugh­ter to have the lump checked — just days short of Christ­mas in 2015.

“I was di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer on De­cem­ber 22 … my only rule on Christ­mas Day was that we weren’t al­lowed to talk about it.

“I just wanted one more day of nor­mal.”

But af­ter “lurch­ing from ap­point­ment to ap­point­ment and test to test”, Mrs Sut­cliffe had a mas­tec­tomy two days af­ter Christ­mas.

This was fol­lowed by six weeks of “bru­tal” chemo­ther­apy, sev­eral more surg­eries and ra­di­a­tion.

Mrs Sut­cliffe said her jour­ney had made her more aware of young women’s risks of breast can­cer.

“Since be­ing di­ag­nosed I have learnt that three in 10 women di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer will be un­der 40, this age group also have worse out­comes gen­er­ally be­cause of late de­tec­tion.”

Each year So Brave cre­ates a fundrais­ing cal­en­dar fea­tur­ing 12 young women, all un­der 40, who are breast can­cer sur­vivors.

Mrs Sut­cliffe was the first Tas­ma­nian to be fea­tured in a So Brave cal­en­dar, which have been run­ning for three years. The 2020 cal­en­dar will fea­ture an­other Tas­ma­nian breast can­cer sur­vivor, Bec Hall, from the state’s North.

For more de­tails, go to www.so­brave.com.au

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