Christine’s active life back on track
A working horticulturalist and keen tennis player, Christine was in her late 60’s when she discovered a lump in her breast. Aided by her independent spirit, helpful friends and family, and the care of her GP and staff at Southside Cancer Care, she has successfully undertaken a course of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
Christine acted promptly when she discovered a concerning lump in her breast. She rang Breast Screen and followed their instruction to consult her GP to book in for a mammogram and an ultrasound.
The equally swift response of her GP put Christine on the right path to receive help. As well as the mammogram and ultrasound, Christine’s GP arranged an appointment with a breast surgeon, and she was grateful for the rapid response.
With the mammogram and ultrasound results indicating cancer, the breast surgeon presented Christine with options for a course of radiation therapy, explaining, “We do things differently now”. Christine, who lives in the Sutherland Shire, could either attend a private clinic at Miranda or go through Sutherland Hospital for a course of radiation.
“I elected to go through a private clinic because we have private health insurance,” says Christine. “The surgeon made an appointment and I got to see Dr Tracey Dunlop at Southside Cancer Care Centre. That was all good. From then on it moved quite quickly.”
Her treatment process began with a session of chemotherapy to shrink the cancerous tumour in her breast. She then had surgery, followed by radiation therapy at the clinic. She will continue to have treatment, receiving targeted therapy for six months.
Every three weeks she attends Southside for a treatment session, which lasts for roughly an hour.
Christine recommends the Southside Cancer Care Centre’s team. “They’ve been fabulous. They’ve been very supportive – and very informative, which is really good.” Although she is very independent by nature, Christine welcomed the support provided by clinic staff. “They will make appointments for you – when you are continually going to doctors you need to make many appointments. They are just very supportive.”
She appreciates the staff who got to know her, and comments, “It is just a bit more personal going through a private clinic like Southside. I think if you go through the public health system you are probably seeing different people all the time.”
Christine’s journey has been boosted by the support of loved ones, including “A lot of support around me from family, girlfriends, people ringing me all the time and coming to see me. They have been very good. I have some lovely neighbours as well. I’ve been okay.”
Formerly a keen tennis competition player, Christine experienced fatigue during chemotherapy. She remembers feeling “I’ve got no energy. I want to rest a lot, but that’s okay – I can do that!”
Christine urges others in the position she was in last year, when she realised something wasn’t right, to be proactive. “I say go to your GP first. My GP was wonderful – she really made things move very quickly. When I got the results back she got me in to see the surgeon the same day. To have a really supportive GP is important – mine is beautiful!”
Christine advises that accepting support from health professionals during the process will also make the job of arranging treatment easier. “Let them do that work for you, because they have a bit more influence,” she points out. Choosing a clinic like Southside that provides a personalised approach and staff who inspire confidence in the process helps too. Christine recommends Southside’s services, saying, “They are very good. I felt like they have everything covered.”
Christine has experienced many changes recently, with the lead-up to her 70th year, Covid restrictions and the cancer diagnosis and treatment all making it necessary to adjust how she lives, works and plays. Despite the setbacks, she is enthusiastic about resuming her interests whenever she can.
She continues to be the carer for her husband and until recently she worked on eight gardens belonging to longstanding clients but is happy now with just a few light horticultural jobs.
Playing comp tennis twice a week has been difficult to give up – “I just wouldn’t have had the energy to do it,” admits Christine. However, she plans to return to the courts after treatment, and vows “I will take tennis up again. I will go back.”