(Part I) Life After Breast Cancer:
Taking a Step Back and Re-Evaluating Life Priorities
The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.
In our four-part series celebrating the women who’ve emerged stronger after a battle with breast cancer, we speak to them to find out what’s their story and how they managed to overcome the odds.
Meet Amy Neary, a brave survivor in her 40s.
Having always taken good health for granted, Amy skipped her annual breast cancer screening the year before she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Occupied with other priorities in life, she overlooked the importance of a screening but the wakeup call came at the urging of her friend who was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. Fortunately, Amy heeded her advice and went for a mammogram, which helped save her life.
Now 6 months away from officially being in remission, Amy has made some fundamental lifestyle changes to reduce stress and chances of a reoccurrence.
What stage were you diagnosed with?
Amy: I was diagnosed at the age of 44 with Stage 3 Her2+ breast cancer. HER2 is a protein that causes breast cancer cells to grow.
What kind of surgery did you undergo?
Amy: I underwent a full mastectomy on my right side with reconstructive surgery. A year and a half later, after completing all of my treatments, I had 2 more reconstructive surgeries to complete the process.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve learnt about yourself through your cancer journey?
Amy: I’ve learnt 3 things through my journey:
- A deeper appreciation for life. It taught me how much I took for granted and that it is more important how I live my life, rather than how long I have to live my life.
- How to reprioritise my life. Don’t sweat the small things. Focus on family and friends. Lead a healthy and balanced lifestyle with plenty of healthy food, exercise, sleep and fun!
- What true friendships look like. My journey brought me closer to my son and my husband. Also, I learned to lean on others when I needed help. True friends were always there for me, even if they didn’t know exactly what to do.
What was a motto you lived by while fighting cancer?
Amy: One of my favourite mantras is: things which matter the most, must never be left at the mercy of things which matter the least.
Amy and fellow breast cancer survivor, Pika Sen
What advice would you like to give women who have just been diagnosed with breast cancer?
Amy: Firstly, you’ll need a new language and mindset. There is a ‘new normal’ that comes with a cancer diagnosis. Know that you’re not alone. Others have been on this journey. Leverage their knowledge. Your support network (friends, family, others – BCF, etc) is going to be the biggest asset to help you get through this journey. Don’t give up, use cancer as an opportunity for growth. Make positive changes to your life because life after cancer can be better than before.
Do you have a message for other women?
Amy: Don’t think that it can’t happen to you – no matter your age or family history. Take steps to reduce your risks including monthly self-examinations, annual screenings and a healthy lifestyle.
Share with us a special memory between you and your son.
Amy’s pillar of support – her son
Describe your relationship with Amy.
Amy’s son: She’s my mom.
What do you love about Amy? How is she special to you?
Amy’s son: She’s very kind and is always there for me. She keeps me safe and feeds me healthy meals.
How did you give her strength while she was battling breast cancer?
Amy’s son: I helped her when her medicine made her hair fall out.
What do you want to tell/encourage her?
Amy’s son: I love you
Do you have any tips and advice for the loved ones who have family/friends suffering from breast cancer?
Amy’s son: Love them every day.
Early detection can help save lives.
Go pink in the month of October for the Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign (1 – 31 Oct) - in collaboration with Breast Cancer Foundation (BCF), show your support when you purchase the specially designed Peony Bow Flats.
Priced at $79, this limited-edition pair will be available at all
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