By Danielle Kutchel
“The world definitely changed that day, and not for good.”
That’s how Cranbourne resident Tracey Ryan recalls the day she was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer, back in 2010.
Aged just 47 at the time, her life and those of her family and friends were turned upside down. While she lives with her diagnosis, she says you don’t ever come to terms with advanced cancer.
“It’s always there. I go to bed with it, I wake up with it. I don’t get a break from cancer,” Ms Ryan says.
Following her diagnosis, Ms Ryan underwent chemotherapy and a double mastectomy.
But the cancer metastasised to her bones, liver, and lungs and her diagnosis is now terminal.
Just before Mother’s Day 2018, she had her left lung removed due to the discovery of a new primary cancer.
“My body is getting very tired. It’s telling me it’s had enough, I think,” she says.
Although she can’t work, Ms Ryan fills her days with charity work, promoting breast cancer awareness.
She’s lending her voice to National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which began on 1 October.
New data from the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) shows that 30,000 more lives could be lost to breast cancer by 2030 without adequate research investment.
The data also shows that a woman’s risk of breast cancer is now one in seven, up from one in eight last year.
Eight women die every day from the disease, which is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia.
NBCF has set an ambitious target of zero deaths from breast cancer by 2030.
It is investing in cutting-edge research projects to achieve this goal, including analysing data from across the country to identify trends and factors contributing to lower survival.
The organisation will also fund a significant amount of research into the most aggressive breast cancer subtypes to improve detection and treatment, particularly in metastatic and triple-negative breast cancers.
In addition, top fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands have teamed up with NBCF during Breast Cancer Awareness month to raise additional much-needed funds for research by donating proceeds from the sale of special edition pink products.
Ms Ryan says women – and men – need to be vigilant and check for signs of breast cancer, and follow their instincts if they feel something isn’t right.
“Don’t take no for an answer. You know your body better than anyone. If you don’t feel it’s right, keep going until someone listens.”
She also recommends people of all genders make a habit of checking their breasts on the first of the month, every month.
But most of all, she wants people to live life while they can.
“We used to stress the small stuff before I got sick and worry about what bills were getting paid, but now, we enjoy life. People shouldn’t wait until they get sick to start living. Life’s too damn short.”