Cindy’s glamour photo session and her story

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I like to post meaningfull stories that can help others.  I find Cindy’s journey fascinating.  She pushed through her circumstances and has a truly inspiring story to tell.

Cindy’s Story:

I was raised in a home with an alcoholic father who was also very cruel and violent when he was drinking and by a mother who showed no affection towards any of her five children.  I was also sexually abused by the neighbour’s teenage son for four years until we moved out next to the highway where my father built a little shop and sold petrol.  All us children had to work in the shop when we weren’t at school.  I was the eldest and at the age of 18, I “escaped” and joined the Air Force.  I did my training in Adelaide, was posted to Sydney and finally Darwin, where I found myself pregnant and having to be discharged after serving three years.  Here I was in Darwin with a new born baby and no job, and nowhere to live.  The father of my child had left and gone back to Sydney.  I met a lady in the maternity ward who offered that I go and stay with her…a two bedroom flat with us two mums and six children, two of which were new borns.  I slept in a double bed with three young children who were constantly wetting the bed.  It was not fun but I was able to go to work at night doing office cleaning . This was back in 1969 and there were no Single Parent Benefits.  I had no choice but to find work and it was only possible because the lady I shared the flat with looked after my baby girl at night while I was working. Four months later I was enticed back to Sydney to be a “happy” family again.  However, after several affairs by my partner, I finally made the break and got myself a one room flat and a job in Ingham’s Poultry gutting 7000 poultry every day.  Saved enough money to buy a little car for $600, and was able to place my daughter in a child minding center.

When you come from a background like mine, you tend to think that any affection given is real love.  I was married two years later in 1971, and was drawn to the excitement of moving to Karratha in the Pilbara where we were given a beautiful four bedroom two bathroom home for $6 a week. We were some of the first people to move into Karratha which was part of Dampier Mining.  My marriage only lasted ten months, and after a job as a housekeeper in the only business in town, being the hotel, I saved enough money to get myself and my daughter to Perth.  I arrived on a bus with $80 in my pocket and found a flat in Highgate, walked into the city and registered for work.  With the first interview I went to, the Manager was an ex Air force officer and was pleased to be able to employ someone who was ex Air force as well.  They trained us well!

I had two very good jobs over the next eleven years and married again in 1983 but once again was divorced in 1987.  This time around, and with enough money saved up, I bought myself a home outright. So I was financially secure but there was always something missing and certainly love was not filling that hole, or what I thought was love at the time. Then in 1989, at the age of 42, I was able to fulfill that missing sense of peace in my life by a chance invitation to go to a church and listen to a lady give her life story.  Her journey was very similar to mine, and that night I made the decision to become a Christian and my life changed dramatically. I cannot describe the joy and peace that was in my life after this event.  Life will always send you challenges but with God as your Father, it is so much easier to navigate the paths of healing.  A year later I lost my mum in a car accident in which it was the driver’s fault.  I was devastated, but I came through it all with the support I received from friends around me and my church family.

The years since then have been full of adventure, excitement and most of all real love.  Firstly by God and then in 1995 I married my husband David.  We have been on this amazing journey together for the past 21 years. My daughter grew up, got married and had three beautiful sons, who we adore and who also adore us.  My grandchildren are a very big part of our lives, even at the age of 18, 16, and 14.

In 2013 I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.  I had the lump removed at the time, and early this year 2016, I chose to have a double mastectomy.

How did you feel when you were told you have cancer:

Best to say I felt a little numb at first, but once the date for the operation was set I had no fear or anxiety and I knew everything was going to be OK.

How did David and your family handle the news:
At first, David felt helpless, for all he wanted to do was fix it!!  An acquaintance of his came to see him who had also gone through Breast Cancer with his wife.  He explained to David that he couldn’t do anything except to be there for me.  He wasn’t expected to “fix it”.  The feeling of wanting to “fix you” is quite common with family members who just want to see you well.

Did you feel any differently about your body and your appearance:
No, not at all.  As the operation was only a lumpectomy at that stage, my scars didn’t bother me.  After three months of recovery and ten days on Rottnest Island, I started three and a half weeks of Radiation.  Except for the hassle of travelling to the Cancer unit every weekday, I made the most of it.  I had a few girlfriends on a roster to come with me, and we went for lunch afterwards or did some girly shopping. The cancer unit in Perth is brand new and a beautiful building with lots of glass walls to see the gardens and trees and the staff amazing.  The procedure would take about 15 minutes and is a little like having an X-ray.  Not invasive at all.  I only experienced a little side effect like sunburn on the affected breast.

Did you have chemo and how did that affect you and Dave?
No, I didn’t have to have Chemo, as my lump was detected early.  A good reason why every girl should have their mammograms regularly.  Every year if it is in the family and also with an ultrasound.  Some Breast Cancers are only detected on either Mammogram or Ultrasound.

Did you feel alone during this time and did you feel angry at God?
No, not at all. I had heaps of support from everywhere.  The girls at church cooked us meals for six weeks.  I know God is my Father and has my best interests at heart.  I understand that we live in a fallen world where sickness and pain is NOT from HIM!!

How did you handle your own feelings during this time:
I can honestly say I had no fear or worry. Love conquers all and I had that over flowing in my life.

Was it an easy decision to have your breasts removed:
Yes, there was no hesitation.  My youngest sister was diagnosed in October 2015 and two weeks later my middle sister with the same.  As soon as I heard this, my immediate reaction was to go ahead and have a double mastectomy. After speaking with my Doctor and Specialist I felt that it was the best decision to make.

How did you feel after the operation:
I never had any doubt that I made the right decision, and still don’t.  I felt relieved that it was all over and done with.

Did you feel any different about your body:
No, not at all.  The medical procedures have changed so much, and I was left with my skin and nipples.  I only had the breast tissue removed.  This allows for reconstruction several months later after the wounds had healed.

Did and do you struggle to find lingerie after the operation:
So far I haven’t had to wear a bra, and loving it.  I had the reconstruction done in July and there is still some tenderness around the area.  The Cancer Council do have somewhere you can go and get fitted but I haven’t looked into that as yet.

Do you think society are informed enough about cancer:
No, I don’t think so.  I feel that I can use my experience to help others and encourage other women to go and have their regular checks.  If Breast Cancer is detected early there is generally a full recovery.  My youngest sister did not have any mammograms, even after I was diagnosed.  When she was finally diagnosed, it was all too late.  She passed away in April of this year, only five months after being diagnosed. I had to get quite angry with my other sister to persuade her to go and have a check-up.  She was stunned when she told me that she also had Breast Cancer.  Her doctor told her that she had dodged a bullet, and had me to thank that she finally listened.  Her final diagnosis was early stage, but with no private health cover, has no financial means to have a mastectomy.

Did you feel alone when you had to make the decision to have your breasts removed:
All my family was very supportive, and nobody in the medical profession was against my decision.  In fact, I found out that my GP had also made the decision after she was diagnosed ten years earlier.

Do you feel you had enough help and info with this whole process:
Yes, once I had made the decision, I did.  Before, during my lumpectomy, I was not given any information about having a mastectomy.  I wonder if it had been discussed if I would have gone ahead and had it done earlier.  When you are diagnosed there is a huge amount of material/info provided to you.  You are told of different avenues that you can access, be it counselling, or support in areas such as financial.

How do you feel about yourself now:
I don’t feel any different than before, except for a little tenderness that will eventually go away.

Do you feel that your body is scared for life and how do you handle any thoughts about this:
I am a very positive person, and my scars do not bother me.  My surgery was done by a plastic surgeon and the scars will eventually fade.  I feel privileged to be a Breast Cancer survivor, as there are many that are not.

Do you feel you struggle to buy any clothing:
No, because of the way the reconstruction was done, there is only a scar to show and my breasts look and feel no different now to how they were before surgery.

I turn 70 years old next year, and feel I have so much more to accomplish.  I love life and I love God.  I wouldn’t change anything!!!

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