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Cancer survivor grateful

BY EMILY NORMAN

A bright sunny day last Friday was welcomed by volunteers who were selling daffodils to raise money for Cancer Society Wairarapa

Out supporting the cause was breast cancer survivor Gaye Mooney of Masterton.

Two years ago in August, she found a lump in her breast and before she knew it, she had several procedures rather quickly: a scan, ultrasound and a biopsy which came back positive for grade 2 ductal cancer in her breast.

“I chose to come to Wairarapa DHB for my treatment, a total mastectomy with a total axillary clearance of my lymph nodes.

Both her GP and surgeon explained everything to her, but she “still felt numb and shocked about the treatment ahead”.

“Meeting others sharing this journey through attending the programme hosted by Cancer Society Look Good Feel Better I realised I am part of a larger group of women fighting this disease and not on my own.”

“This cancer makes you feel like you have no control over your destiny and I know it sounds silly but it was nice to be in the company of others feeling the same.”

She said Cancer Society Wairarapa offered her a one stop shop for breast cancer support

Looking back over the last two years it’s not been all negative, she said.

“I have learned so much about my body and about treatment.

“I learned some skills about how to relax and I made some fantastic friends and met some neat health professionals.”

The most difficult challenge for Gaye was “the legacy” of the surgery – she was left with lymphoedema because she no longer had any lymph nodes under her arm.

But she has continued to be supported by Jenny Collett the Wairarapa District Health Board Lymphoedema therapist, and Jacinta Buchanan the Cancer Society Wairarapa’s Lymphodema therapist and registered nurse.

Through a course at the Wairarapa Cancer Society, Moving on After Breast Cancer, Gaye was able to fill in the “gaps” of her knowledge from her journey so far.

“I met about 12 other women who I shared with and I now feel connected to the cancer community and know I can get support as a survivor.

“We talked about our losses and gains on the course.

“I grieved the loss of my hair then but of course it’s grown back now.”

She said she felt supported in her community and by her family and is grateful her journey hadn’t been any worse.

“My family joke and say to me, Gaye you can’t get your tits in a tangle now.

“I know I am wiser and I don’t sweat the small stuff.”

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Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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