My journey began when I was 40 and Breast Screen Australia had brought the age limit for screening down to 40. So in I went, relaxed, chilled. Can’t say it didn’t hurt cause it did but… we will skip that bit. So I get called back because they want to do a biopsy. It hurt, but I went through the procedure.

Then I get results back. I have breast cancer in the left boob. They want to do a lumpectomy followed by chemo then six weeks of radiation at The Wesley Hospital. I was numb, as I had two young  girls. I had to have this procedure, then chemo, then fly to Brisbane for six weeks – how are they going to cope with this? What happens if it doesn’t stop the cancer? I had all the ‘what ifs’ racing in my head. It was the worst experience ever to go through in my life, but I got through it. I  was so so sick from chemotherapy I thought I was going to die but knew I had to fight this all the way. I had my girls who needed their  mum so I got through it all. Went on Tamoxifen for five years, got my clearance too, and was told “if you get through the five years you’re right”.

Well, it was clear sailing, enjoying life, watching my girls grow up. One got married, Melissa, and had two beautiful daughters. It was great to see my other daughter get her degree in teaching. Life was awesome.

Then in 2017 I lost my husband in a car accident and this hit us all hard.  It was as if life just came to a big stand still. He died in October. Then in July 2018 the dry cough I had for many months after the accident got worse. I got a second opinion from a new GP who sent me for an X-ray straight away.  He called me back and said to bring a support person along. So my two girls came, we sat down and the doctor says to us “Your dry cough is the cancer that’s spread to your lung.   We need you to see a oncologist straight away.”

I sat there quiet as. Bec had just had her baby. I thought “My god these girls have just lost their dad.   I can’t die now.”

So off we go. We head to Townsville as they are  quicker to see me. They run all these test and X-rays on me, then the oncologist sits down with my daughter and brother and tells me “OK Joyce you have lung cancer which has metastasised from the previous breast cancer, through your bones and lung.” I was numb. I didn’t hear anything else. I was in shock, hurt, angry, upset; all the scary emotions. Then I ask him to stop talking and take me back to the beginning. So he did,  and spoke and answered questions as I took it all in.

I remember saying “How long do you give me?”  He said my cancer was travelling rapidly. He said 3 to 5 years. He says he would start me on chemo the next day then transfer me back to Mackay Icon. Which he did.

I did my rounds of chemo and also had the bone injection Xgeva. I was doing OK until the jaw pain started. The pain was agony! I was ready  to give up until the dentist made an appointment with a dental specialist, an oral surgeon at The Wesley. She knew what it was straight away –  I had osteonecrosis of the jaw, a (very very rare) side-effect from the Xgeva injection. So no more bone injections, and after surgery things are fine.  But it was a tough time in my life once again. But we got through this.

I am now  taking Letrozole plus Ribociclib daily as my cancer is estrogen positive.  I have been on that for nearly 5 years and so far it’s holding my cancer at bay.

 I love life, I value it more now, and cherish every day I wake up.

 I am forever grateful for this amazing group as we all know we have something hanging above us all the time. I love my three beautiful granddaughters and my one grandson, they will continue to make many happy memories.