Mum’s cancer battle
FOUR days after being diagnosed with cancer, Tammy Dorsett had her left breast removed.
It was a horror week for the 33-year-old, Rockhampton mum-of-three.
She was diagnosed with, the world’s most common form of breast cancer, invasive ductal carcinoma.
“I was playing soccer with my kids and I copped a ball to the chest,” she said.
“I was feeling around to make sure I was okay and I felt the lump, I just thought it’d be okay.
“Then I got my husband to check for me and he said he couldn’t feel anything, and I kept putting off going to the doctor because being a mum you’re always busy, and eventually the anxiety was doing my head in so I went to the doctor.”
After her trip to the doctor Tammy was sent straight for an ultrasound and biopsy.
“Finding out was pretty scary,” she said.
One of the hardest challenges Tammy faced early on in her battle was having to tell her children. “I’ve got two older boys and my daughter was only two at the time so it was hard to put into words for her,” she said.
“I played it down a little bit and told her that ‘mummy has a monster in her boob’ and that I needed the surgery to get it out.”
During chemotherapy Tammy came across a children’s book that would help her daughter better understand.
“The book was by a lady down south who had breast cancer and she wrote it because she didn’t have the resources to tell her kids about her cancer,” she said.
The treatment took its toll on Tammy after having to go through six months of chemotherapy which could go for three to four hours.
She then went through five to six weeks of radiation which would go for 20 minutes, and then another 12 months on an adjuvent medication.
Whilst she said radiation was “cruisey”, chemotherapy really knocked her.
“Chemo effects people in different ways, some people can handle it really well and others not so much,” she said.
“For me, my whole body felt like it was on fire, and I haven’t had a night of drinking since chemo because I’m scared I’ll vomit and I did enough of that during treatment to last me a lifetime.
“There’s a lot of medication that can be offered to you to help with the side effects of chemo.”
Whilst going through her treatment Tammy was lucky to have the support of her husband Matt and her other family.
“I tried to as much as I could but it was a bit hard with chemo,” she said.
“Matt still had to work out at the mines, if he doesn’t work he doesn’t get paid so there are no sick days or anything like that.
“But I had my mum come and help out as well so I’m very lucky to have the help I did.” Tammy’s sister Stacey Caton set up a YouCaring page to help raise money for the family with a goal of $20,000, with the end result a whopping $23,928.
“It was such an amazing thing to have that money raised for us and it was really appreciated,” she said.
“It really helped for when Matt couldn’t be at work and I bought a wig too.”
Tammy’s treatment concluded in July 2017, in November that same year she decided to get her right breast removed.
Whilst Tammy hasn’t officially been given the all clear , she said it was a good feeling getting positive results during her check ups.
Tammy said the life lesson of resilience helped her through her cancer battle.
“I grew up on a 22,662ha brahman property in Marlborough,” she said.
“I guess you also realise just because you live out of town or in a rural community doesn’t mean that you have to put yourself second...we need to be vigilant with our health.
“The cows are always going to be there when you come home.”
FAMILY SUPPORT: Breast cancer survivor Tammy Dorsett, pictured with her husband Matt and their children, are determined to spread the message of early detection.