Hi – in July this year and on my 58th birthday I received a diagnosis of HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2) positive breast cancer. I was referred to a surgeon and surgery was scheduled for 17 July 2019. However, surgery did not take place because during the process of mapping of my lymph nodes, shadows on my lungs where found. As the cancer had metastasised – the surgery was cancelled in favour of commencing chemotherapy treatment immediately. I then underwent more testing to see if I had any signs of cancer elsewhere in my body and two more cancers were found in my brain.
By the time we went to see the chemo oncologist my husband and I were feeling very distraught and quite disheartened. That soon changed because the oncologist was very hopeful about my future and felt that with the right treatment I would be able to have many more years of quality life. She said that for women HER2 positive, there was immune targeted therapy available. These therapies are called Herceptin and Perjeta and they work by attaching themselves to the HER2 receptors located on the surface of breast cancer cells and blocking them from receiving growth signals. By blocking the signals, they can slow or stop the growth of the breast cancer. This was great news for us!!
After eight weeks of chemotherapy (Taxol) and receiving Herceptin and Perjeta three times I was sent back to radiology for CT scans and another MRI. More cancers had shown their ugly faces in my brain resulting in ten tumours that were still very small. At the end of September 2019 I had radiation on my brain to hopefully eliminate these tumours – I will have another MRI in six weeks’ time to see if we have had success. In the meantime I will continue with the chemotherapy and perhaps some more radiation but this time on my breast in an effort to reduce its size.
I was born in Dalby and raised in Toowoomba. I still have a couple of very good friends from my school days who have been a great source of strength to me over the past three months. I have worked most of my life in a wide variety of jobs. I started in administrative roles and moved into the banking industry when I was 25 years old. When my husband had finished his university education, I decided it was time I tried out the whole university experience, so at 38 years of age I enrolled in a psychology degree and commenced four years of undergraduate followed by two years post graduate degrees. I have learned so much from working in the field of psychology and met many caring and kind people along the way. I have now made the decision to retire and enjoy life with my husband and family, however long or short that may be.
Currently I live in Brisbane with my husband Richard and have two wonderful sons (31 and 29 years). I am very fortunate that my husband takes great care of me and I feel very loved and needed by my sons. We are taking each day as it comes and remain positive and optimistic about the future.
After Leonie’s death, Richard, her husband, went to the rainforest near Maleny and held a private ceremony for Leonie. He has sent us this video and these photos to place on her In Memory page.