Journey to hell and back
ONE day Sheena MacLean was a healthy 50-year-old woman, living a busy life in London with her partner and their young son.
But the next she was faced with a terrifying reality - in mid-2001 she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
The Lismore Heights resident said all of her dreams came 'crashing down'.
“I had always been a pretty healthy person,” she said.
“Then one day I was getting on the train and I felt this terrible pain in my breast. Later I felt a small lump at the top of my breast and within two weeks I had a diagnosis - it was cancer.”
She had a lumpectomy in the UK before returning to live in Australia. But when the cancer came back, she didn't want to take any risks, and decided to have a mastectomy.
“I wanted to stay alive,” she said. “I have no idea how my son coped with it all.
“But I have great faith in the integrity of the body. Life is a gamble anyway.”
Despite admitting that breast cancer patients 'need an enormous amount of support', Ms MacLean said she felt very alone and wants everyone to realise what October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month is all about.
“I mostly dealt with my cancer alone, especially the fear thing. I was in a lot of shock.
“I would tell women who are diagnosed with breast cancer to trust their own inner wisdom about what is best for them,” she said.
“Cancer snaps you out of your trance with day-to-day life. You realise what is important. Life is a fleeting thing anyway.
“What we really need is more support for our partners and children.