We often think we are invincible – that we are immune from tragedy, illness and loss. It’s easy to feel that way… if there is one message you remember from this article today, it should be this: check your boobs.
As a business, and as a family we support the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF). We support the ACRF because of their focus on finding cures for cancer. (Click here to read why we say “cures” for cancer.) We’ve personally been affected by cancer, as have many of our friends and family – it is, unfortunately, quite common.
We recently learned about an inspiring Aussie, Natalie Sengchanh, who recently finished treatment for breast cancer. Nat is a Sydney based mother, teacher, swimmer and breast cancer survivor. Cancer is a challenging journey, and we are grateful for Nat, for having the courage to share with us her experience and her thoughts.
The average age of a breast cancer diagnosis in Australia is 61 (ACRF 2018), but a study in 2012 found that over 750 Australian women were diagnosed with breast cancer in one year (BCNA 2018).
Nat knew the importance of self examinations at a younger age. “I would do self examinations at least once a month. My girlfriend had breast cancer at the age of 33 so I was fully aware that breast cancer did not discriminate against age. Plus as a mother of five sons I have always been aware of my breasts and any changes that have happened throughout my breast feeding years. So breast care was always a priority.
I found a lump of the 30th of October then got checked by my GP who sent me for a routine mammogram and ultrasound. On the spot they followed it up with a biopsy because they obviously found something. On the 11th of November 2017 I was diagnosed, on the 4th of December I had a single mastectomy. In January started chemo and on the eighth of March I finished.”
Despite undergoing four rounds of chemotherapy, Nat stayed upbeat and positive throughout her treatment. An avid swimmer and crossfitter, Nat said, “I continued to train throughout and swim because moving kept me positive and research shows exercise makes the results of having chemo so much better. Side effects aren’t as bad plus the chemo drugs work harder.”
She had constant support from her family, friends and community. “My family, friends and faith kept me going. I never questioned, why me. This was a journey I was going to take in my stride. I have grown as a person, I am stronger. So is my family. We have been the recipients of so many blessings during this journey. Sometimes in life blessings are disguised as trials.”
On starting over, Nat said, “My life over the past five months has been tumultuous to say the least. Life has changed. I have changed. To face one’s mortality and stare it right in the eye of the storm changes a person. I seem to have made it out of the storm okay though. However, I cannot pick up where I left off before the 11th November before my diagnosis. So I have decided to stand here, where I am and to BEGIN AGAIN. Start a fresh. Not compare myself to who I used to be or what I used to look like or to anyone else for that matter. Cancer changes a person. So, cheers to brighter days ahead and a new beginning, whatever that looks like.” 💓
Every year over 17,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer (BCNA 2018). Although the risk increases with age, regardless of age, all women should be breast aware and carry out self-examinations – find more information here:
Breast Cancer Network Australia https://www.bcna.org.au/breast-health-awareness/breast-awareness/
Australian Cancer Research Foundation https://www.acrf.com.au/support-cancer-research/types-of-cancer/breast-cancer