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  • Koreen Liew-Young

The lump in my breast was the size of a golf ball

We had found the lump...only three weeks ago...initial tests came back clear.


It had changed.  Bigger, irregular.

I scanned my GP's facial expression. She remained focused as she continued checking, but there was worry growing in her eyes.

"We need to get this checked straight away."

The "C" word entered my mind, and horror filled my heart as I looked at my eight week old baby. I smiled at him, while blinking through tears.  My world seemed to be falling apart as each second passed.

Immediately, my GP rung around to get me an ultrasound as soon as possible.  The earliest appointment available was two weeks.  A lot can happen in two weeks. It can be the difference between nipping it in the butt and it developing into a long-term problem.

She wrote me a referral note for Auckland Emergency Hospital. I went immediately and a second doctor shared her concerns and fast tracked me through to the breast unit for an appointment in a week's time.

That week was the longest wait I'd ever experienced.  It's hard trying to reassure a worried baby that everything is going to be ok, when you feel deep down that it really may not be. I was trying to bond with my baby without passing on the obvious stress I was feeling; failing miserably at hiding behind a fake smile while I cooed at my son.

My baby is crying out because I'm not around when he wakes up - I'm crying on the inside because I may never be there to see him grow up.

And I haven't even mentioned my husband yet.

The consultation and ultrasound finally came around. Fortunately, it was diagnosed as a galactocele, a milk cyst resulting from a duct being blocked from breast feeding. And earlier this year, I opted for an operation to remove the lump. It was the size of a golf ball. 

I was so fortunate to find out I didn't have cancer. But 60 New Zealanders each day aren't.  Some have survived with a testimony to the great care we have in New Zealand. Others, have unfortunately lost the battle. Personally, I have four family and extended family and many many friends who have had varying success (or lack of) against cancer, (not just breast) and they all have inspired me while writing this blog.

So this post is for Ben who lost someone very dear, as well as his wider family Adeline, Allison, Audrey and Adrienne. Please support them in the The Pink Star Walk in honour of Malinda who lost her battle earlier this year.

The Pink Star walk is a fundraising walk that sustains vital research projects and supports women recovering from and living with breast cancer in New Zealand. It costs just $40 to fund two hours of home care or provide four cooked meals for someone living with secondary breast cancer. Please consider donating $40 today so we can help improve the quality of life for hundreds of New Zealand women. I already have and I think the money is worth every cent.

Eight women a day are diagnosed with breast cancer in New Zealand. Chances are, either yourself or someone you love will be affected by breast cancer and need their help.

Other ways you can support are by donating or applying to be a volunteer for the upcoming Pink Ribbon Appeal.

In hindsight, I am lucky that my lump was just a milk cyst, and am thankful to God and for friends and family rallying around me in what was a difficult time when we didn't know what the outcome would be. I thought it could never happen to me, but this experience made me realise you can't take things for granted.  Make sure you check regularly, and if you're unsure, you can check with a nurse or GP, especially after having a baby. 


EDIT: It's been brought to my attention from one of my cousins, that we should be raising awareness, and checking for all types of cancer, not just breast cancer....... Just as he said, cancer can be treated if diagnosed early with regular checkups. Too right cuz. Much love.

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