Mum’s cancer bat­tle

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - Column -

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.

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