Standing in the shower one Friday morning, Val Davison felt a lump on her breast. Although she wasn’t overly concerned, she mentioned it to her best friend Jude and her husband.
“They were both more alarmed than I was, and said I needed to see my doctor the following day,” Val said.
The 54-year-old tried to brush off their concern, saying she’d make an appointment the following week, but her loved ones insisted.
“I didn’t have any family history of breast cancer. I thought it was just a cyst and my GP agreed, but sent me for a mammogram to be on the safe side.”
Ten days later, Val took an hour off work to go for her mammogram. Her friend Jude joined her for moral support.
In an instant, everything changed; the news was devastating
“They started talking about cancer; I’d taken an hour off work to have a mammogram and then found out I wouldn’t be going back to work for more than nine months,” Val said.
Val needed a mastectomy, followed by months of intense chemotherapy and radiation.
“What got to me the most was losing my nipple—I remember sitting in the room and them saying that they were going to take my breast and I asked if I could keep the nipple, and they said ‘no’,” Val said, tears welling up in her eyes.
“I’d always been so proud of my boobs and then suddenly, when I got up out of bed and walked to the toilet, I’d be confronted with the mirror that showed me I had a bald head, no eyebrows and no boob.”
“There were a few days before I shaved my head when every time I touched my hair, pieces would fall out and when I put the hair dryer on it, there was hair flying off around bathroom.”
Mater Chicks in Pink stepped in
Thankfully, Mater Chicks in Pink were there to help Val out with the big things, and the little things.
“The breast care nurses at Mater introduced me to the Mater Chicks in Pink team, who helped me buy a wig and mastectomy bras. They also gave me parking vouchers for my (many) visits to the hospital,” Val said.
“Having the mastectomy bra and prosthesis made me feel heaps better; I could feel a bit normal and in the end I had three bras which I referred to as ‘my friends’.
“I had one for gym, one for going out and one for swimming so I’d go on holidays with four boobs!”
But Val’s experience as a patient wasn’t her first brush with Mater Chicks in Pink.
“I had done the RACQ International Women’s Day Fun Run before, so I was already familiar with Mater Chicks in Pink. Little did I know I would one day be on the receiving end!”
Light at the end of the tunnel
Val completed radiation on New Years’ Eve 2013 and underwent reconstructive surgery in January 2015.
“I’m still going through that now; they recently gave me a nipple, but there’s still a bit of tweaking to do,” she laughed.
“I don’t count having breast cancer as a blessing, but it has changed my life; I’ve done a lot of things I wouldn’t have been game to do before from climbing the Story Bridge to attending a boot camp in Bali and modelling at a breast cancer fundraiser.”
How you can help
- Providing a woman with a mastectomy bra after surgery costs just $105, but it truly can change the world of a woman with breast cancer. A woman like Val.
- Bust a move … you know you want to! On Saturday 18 June you can get your sparkle on in support of women with breast cancer at Bust a Move.TM Think your own mini dancefloor to bust out your best dance moves and a place where you and your friends can spend the day moving, grooving, high-fiving and laughing. Plus, there will be LOTS of glitter! Crazy costumes are optional, but highly recommended. Your all inclusive $50 registration fee secures your spot on the dancefloor and gives you access to the ‘Refuel Zone’ where you can grab your refreshments and the ‘Chill Out Zone’ where you can take a break from the dancefloor. In the lead up to the event, Mater Chicks in Pink ask you to raise a minimum of $500 to help provide tangible and timely support services to women with breast cancer.
Call The Mater Chicks in Pink team on 1800 440 155 to reserve your sparkly spot now!
This story was first published by Mater Chicks in Pink.
She Society is a site for the women of Australia to share our stories, our experiences, shared learnings and opportunities to connect.