The past 12 months have been a roller coaster ride for Cairns mum-of-two, Kylie Huyser, after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
A few weeks before her 40th birthday – and during Breast Cancer Awareness Month last year - Kylie discovered a lump in her right breast. She immediately contacted her GP.
What ensued was a whirlwind of tests, scans and medical treatments, with Kylie commencing chemotherapy within six weeks of having a mammogram.
‘Everything happened very quickly,’ Kylie said.
Kylie’s journey has taken her from the GP, to x-ray and imaging staff, surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, chemotherapy staff, radiology therapists and nurses, blood collection and pathology staff, a genetic counsellor and most recently a physiotherapist.
Kylie, who has since had a double mastectomy, was also one of the very first patients to use the Health Service’s new linear accelerator for her radiation therapy.
‘I would say I’ve been helped by over 50 different health professionals in the public and private system in the past year,’ she said.
‘Everyone worked together. I was surprised about how organised everyone was and how well they communicate and collaborate.
‘The clinicians go to multi-disciplinary team (MDT) meetings and discuss my case as a group and they’re all aware of what each other are doing.
‘The first person to call me after being diagnosed was Deirdre Maunsell, the McGrath Breast Care Nurse and she has been in contact with me the whole time.’
‘I have had so much love and support, not only from my family, but my friends, work colleagues and each and every health professional I have come in contact with.
‘I may not have asked for much support, but I have appreciated every offer of help, advice, and the thoughtful gifts.’
During her treatment, Kylie and her husband Daniel made a conscious decision to keep their holiday plans, to help take the whole family’s minds off Kylie’s cancer journey.
‘The clinicians were really great in helping me work my treatment days around my holidays,’ Kylie said.
‘This year, we managed to have our first family snow holiday in NSW five weeks after my surgery. We all had a great time.
‘I’ve been extremely lucky in that, apart from some tiredness, losing my hair and being a bit more disorganised and distracted than usual, I’ve had minimal side effects.’
Kylie finishes treatment within the next few months. When asked what advice she has for others, Kylie said she tries to stay positive.
‘Listen to your body. Don’t conform to what people are saying you should do or feel. You are the only one who knows your limits. You can’t help what your body is going to do, so trust the professional advice,’ she said.
Kylie is one of approximately 290 breast cancer patients referred to the McGrath Foundation Cairns Breast Care Nurse Service each year.
The service provides invaluable support, advice, education and care co-ordination to patients and their families in our region.