Flower Power brings people together, so they don’t have to face cancer alone.
When Bernardette was diagnosed with breast cancer last July, it was in the midst of COVID-19 restrictions. She had just broken up with her fiance, and due to social distancing enforcements, she was not even able to see other patients during her sessions of chemotherapy.
“My whole life changed in one second. I went from being an active and social women, to not being able to exercise and having to stay at home. My depression became so much worse, and I felt so lonely.”
Bernardette has a history of breast cancer in her family and leant heavily on her sisters and mother for support.
“Both of my sisters would come stay with me, cook and help with the cleaning and so would my Mum. They’d get the kids organised and made sure I was eating healthy. I wouldn’t have gotten through treatment without them. They were very strong and supportive in every way.”
Bernardette said talking to her sister, who had also had breast cancer, made the world of difference. Being able to share her experience with someone who had been through what she was going through, gave her hope.
“What my sister kept saying to me was that it’s just temporary. When the chemo made me so ill that I wanted to stop treatment, she would remind me that it’s only a short period in my life. My hair would grow back. I would be able to go out and see my friends again. I would feel good again.”
After a mastectomy, the Look Good, Feel Good program assisted Bernardette to feel more like herself again. The program posted out makeup and bra kits that helped Bernardette gain a little more normalcy in her life once more.
“When I started to feel good enough to put makeup on and get dressed up again and get a proper wig, I felt so much better. Even though I had no eyelashes or eyebrows, it was the act of making that effort. To be able to do these normal things made all the difference.”
Bernardette hopes to help other women in the way that the strong and compassionate women in her life have assisted her through some of the most trying times.
“I encourage all the young girls in my life to know their bodies, check their breasts regularly, and be open and up front with their GPs if anything is out of the ordinary. It’s so important to normalise these conversations.”
“The more I speak about my experience with breast cancer, the more I hear about women in their 30s having to go through a mastectomy because of this disease.”
“I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I went through. I’d like chemotherapy to never exist. I’d like screening to be able to detect cancer at the very earliest of stages so that invasive treatments such as these are not necessary.”
We have the power to fund cancer research, so advancements can be made in these areas of cancer treatment and early detection, which will not only improve quality of life for cancer patients, but also save more lives.
Bernardette believes that sharing her story will give hope to Australian women with breast cancer and encourage young women to practice breast cancer prevention and early detection.
“I’m encouraging Australians to get behind Daffodil Day this year, so we can all support breakthroughs in cancer research, which will see progress made in breast cancer screening and advanced methods of early detection.”
Bernardette is showing her Flower Power this Daffodil Day by sharing her story. How will you show yours?