Earlier this year I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Which means two things. One: I now know what an axilla is. And two: every time I go to a dinner party I think, "Me, I'm the one! The rest of you guys are safe! You're welcome!" I know that isn't exactly how the 1-in-8 Australian women will get breast cancer statistic works, but it's hard to not think of yourself as the winner of a really unpalatable lottery. If you're reading this, you probably recently found yourself in a similar situation or perhaps know someone who has. And you're wondering... how do I help smash this malignancy like a Greek plate?
I wondered that myself. Which is why I count myself lucky that I ended up at the Chris O'Brien Lifehouse. Because as I soon gleaned, you need as much elbow grease in your corner as you can get. And they have grease up the wazoo. They put it slightly differently of course (are an "integrated and focused centre of excellence" I believe they call it), but it's all the same thing. Especially when you're the one going through treatment. And it's through my experience at the Lifehouse that I happened upon the Sydney Breast Cancer Foundation. Which brings me to the "help" part.
As a columnist and comedian I've spent my whole career telling stories. So I told mine to the likes of News Limited and Channel 7 but that didn't seem like anywhere near enough. So here I am. Because I want to help others, like me, who didn't even know what they needed. But are hoping they end up with the best doctors and the most advanced treatment they can get - even if they don't exactly know how to go about it. And to help make early detection an everyday occurrence, because that's really where it's at - if we got all breast cancer early enough we could boast a 100% survival rate. But here's the problem... we don't check. Not nearly enough of us and not nearly enough. We know we should but we don't. Here I am - halfway through chemotherapy - and I've never done a breast check. If that doesn't make you reach for your mammories, I don't know what will.
So this is why I'm here - to get you to check, to get you to care and to get you to help us raise the dollars and cents it takes to make the treatment of breast cancer almost laughably uncomplicated going forward. You can start by signing up to the newsletter. And after that? I leave it up to you. But trust me when I tell you this isn't a lottery you want your loved ones to win. I've come to terms with my power ball (actually, I had my surgeon take it out and I believe it's in the Lifehouse tumour bank somewhere), but now it's time to help make a serious dent in this disease once and for all.
A/Prof Sanjay's Story »
“It’s like a seismic event in their life..., yet they remain positive and demonstrate hope - I am inspired by my patients.”A/Prof Sanjay Warrier