This year, more than 20,000 Australians will hear the words 'you have breast cancer'. Sadly over 3,000 of those diagnosed will lose their lives.
When Brenda, resident of The Parks Retirement Living community felt something wrong in her body, she listened. She went for an ultrasound, at her doctor's request. She got her diagnosis shortly after that.
She could not believe it when she heard the words 'you have breast cancer' from her doctor.
"I did not feel much at all. I just thought 'This is all going to be okay and I just have to learn something from this experience.' Life is just like that," Brenda said.
Her lumpectomy surgery was not a success, as her surgeons were not able to get all of the tumour out. The news was devastating, but Brenda persevered. A week later Brenda was in the operating theatre again, this time for a full left mastectomy.
"Every day I am so grateful to my left breast for saving my life. A survivor needs to grab life by the throat and be grateful for every day. You have to continue to have a positive outlook on life and try, as hard as you can, to rid your life of stress."
"Even though the tumour was quite large, I didn't require chemotherapy, which is rare. I did go through 25 radiation treatments, which was very uncomfortable but bearable."
This month, 43 events have been organised across our communities which include morning teas, lunches, raffles and other activities to raise funds for vital breast cancer research, all with the hope of helping those diagnosed with breast cancer, like Brenda.
Residents, staff, and partners across offices and 90+ communities have rallied together since 2016 to raise funds to support UQ Diamantina Institute Group Leader Associate Professor Fiona Simpson and her lab's groundbreaking research project, Project Pink, in collaboration with the Princess Alexandra Research Foundation, based at the Princess Alexandra Hospital's Translational Research Institute.
This year an incredible $17,207 has already been raised, with more events continuing this month.
"Sometimes I think that breast cancer was one of the best things to happen to me as it made me realise that life is wonderful and we all too often get 'bogged down' with such unnecessary stresses and worries about things that are really unimportant," said Brenda.
Brenda's advice to those diagnosed with breast cancer is to join a support group.
"Your journey is a very personal thing but to have the support of women, and men, going through the same experience and to be able to share advice and talk freely about the diagnosis and treatments is very therapeutic.
"The breast care nurses are wonderful and they can tell you if a support group exists. If there is not one in your area, start one up. You'll be amazed at how good you feel after such a meeting."
"It is hard for family to stay engaged [with the cancer battle] as they are at the coal face 24/7 and more often than not, they do not know what to say or how to help. It is often easier to open up to almost strangers rather than to burden your loved ones even further."