Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Our Stories

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a cause we hold dear to our hearts. Here’s why:

🎗We are a team of 5 women.

🎗2 of our beautiful team members, Kendall and Kelly, are breast cancer survivors.

🎗That’s 2 out of 5.

🎗The national average is 1 in 7.

🎗2 of us are not old enough to be in the most likely age group to be diagnosed with breast cancer.

🎗Over 3,200 Australians are expected to lose their lives from breast cancer in Australia this year – that’s around nine people a day.

For the month of October, we’re raising awareness and funds for the National Breast Cancer Foundation and both Kendall and Kelly have generously agreed to share their stories.


I was doing a routine breast exam and noticed a small lump in my left breast.  This was a couple of days before Christmas, and I couldn’t bring myself to say anything because I wanted everyone to have a nice Christmas.

Kendall found a lump in her breast just days before Christmas

After Christmas, I made an appointment with my Doctor, and she sent me for a mammogram and ultrasound. I had to wait a week before I would get in. The technician started the ultrasound on my left breast. She found the lump I felt. I was looking at the screen and saw it as well. She then proceeded to finish doing the rest of the breast. I was still looking at the screen, and I saw it just as she did, there was another one. At this stage, I felt like I was going to be sick.  She progressed further and again there was another one. By this stage, I felt like I was going to pass out.

The technician finished the ultrasound, and I knew things weren’t good. She got the doctor to come in and talk to me about having biopsies.

I made an appointment to have the biopsies done. Because there were three lesions, I had to have 3 appointments which meant a lot of juggling and waiting about a week again. I felt numb.

With the biopsies done, and again found myself waiting for the report to come in.

I went to the doctor to get the results.  Two out of my three umps were malignant (one stage 1 and the other stage 2) – they had caught it early.  I then went into fight mode. 

  • Ok, what do we have to do next? 
  • Will I have to have a mastectomy? 
  • Will I have to have Chemo? 
  • Will I have to have Radiation?

I had to see a surgeon, so I made the first available appointment I could get.  I went to the surgeon who advised me that I didn’t need a mastectomy but would need to have both of the tumours surgically removed.   I also had to go and have dye injected into my breast to see which lymph nodes may be affected. Two lymph nodes could be affected so I would have to have those removed as well.

Finally, it was time for surgery. There were a couple of complications, and the surgery took longer than expected. My surgeon said that everything went well, that they were able to remove the lumps with good margins, and also they were able to remove the lymph nodes.

I got the results a week later. 

Cancer had moved into one of my lymph nodes; luckily it was only a microscopic amount. The other lymph was clear, and all cancer had been removed from the rest of my breast.

Next, I was off to see an Oncologist.  It was decided that with my other health issues chemotherapy would be detrimental to me, so I started radiation. It was every day, Monday to Friday for 4 weeks at the Mater hospital in Waratah, a 45-minute drive each way. I went to work in the morning and left at either 2 pm-3 pm to drive to radiation. I am lucky to have some wonderful friends who would drive me down and back so that I wasn’t too tired.

Everything was going well with the radiation until the third week when I started to get burns under my arm. I had to have a couple of weeks off work due to the burns, and I nearly had to be hospitalised. As a result, it was decided to finish my radiation early.

I have now been cancer free for over 18 months and have got the all-clear at my 12-month mammogram and ultrasound. During all of this, I decided that I would get DNA testing done as there is breast cancer in the family. I come back showing that I have the ATM gene.

My story is an important reminder to do your self-checks, know your history and make sure you have your regular mammograms because they do save lives.



I went for my usual 2-year mammogram on the breast-scanning bus. Shortly after, I received a call letting me know I had to attend the Breast Cancer Clinic in Newcastle as they had found an abnormality.

When Kelly went for her routine breast scan, she had no idea that anything was wrong.

I went for the scan and then had a biopsy the same day and was advised that I had stage 2 breast cancer.

It was all a shock to me as I had no inclination that there was anything wrong, I felt no lumps, and there was no noticeable change in my breast.

I was then booked in to see a surgeon and had surgery to remove the two lumps they found and then had a course of radiation.

I am still recovering from it all and to tell the truth; I am still a bit dumbfounded about it all as I had no idea there was anything wrong.

So now I have been telling all of my female friends not to postpone their mammogram as you never know it could happen to you as well.


How You Can Help

Check Your Breasts

First and foremost, check your breasts. That goes for all you men as well! In Australia, around 1 in 600 men are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

In order to detect breast cancer early, it is recommended that all women between 50-74 years attend regular screening mammograms every two years. These are offered for free by BreastScreen Australia. Women aged 40-49 and 75 years and older are also eligible for free mammograms if they choose to attend. In deciding whether to attend a screening mammogram, women in these age groups can speak with their doctor and should also consider the potential benefits and downsides of screening mammograms for them.

National Breast Cancer Foundation

Raise Breast Cancer Awareness

Talk to your girlfriends, your work colleagues, and your family about breast cancer and the importance of regular breast checks. Set a calendar reminder to check your breasts every month. You should look/feel for any changes in breast tissue, like:

  • changes in size
  • feeling a palpable lump
  • dimpling or puckering of the breast
  • inversion of the nipple
  • redness or scaliness of the breast skin
  • redness or scaliness of the nipple/areola area, or
  • discharge of secretions from the nipple.

Make a Donation

A donation of any size – counts! Your generosity helps with prevention, detection, new and improved treatments, and helping breast cancer survivors maintain a positive quality of life. Make your donation today. You can also make a donation to the McGrath Foundation to help Breast Care Nurses provide free support to patients and their families experiencing breast cancer.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as professional advice. We recommend consulting with qualified professionals for advice tailored to your individual circumstances.

Oliver and Co Conveyancing Cessnock founder Tayla Ross (nee Oliver)

Hi there! I'm Tayla Oliver

I founded Oliver Howells & Co. to educate and support you through your legal, or property buying and selling journey, with affordable, full-service legal and conveyancing support. You can count on our experienced and friendly team to look after your best interests at every step of the way.

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