Thursday, 21 July 2011


When I first met her, I had no idea who Lee was or how she would come to be such a significant part of my life in so short a time.

I first met her when I was recalled to have the repeat mammogram, which was the same day I had the ultrasound and needle biopsy.Lee took me to her office, introduced herself, gave me an ice pack (thank you Lee!) and proceeded to chat to me about breast cancer and give me information about doctors (surgeons) available in the area that I might like to see. I was very polite and listened and asked questions whilst all the time my mind was thinking "Why is she telling me this stuff? I just have fibrous breasts"! Ah! The beauty of ignorance! I distinctly remember during this chat I asked Lee "Who would you go to?". I later found out that she was a breast cancer survivor - TWICE! Ah! Ignorance!

A couple of weeks later I was in Sydney for a work conference when Lee phoned, just to see how I was going. As I was still firmly in denial I assured her I was fine, but had made an appointment with a surgeon, whom, co-incidentally she worked with. Another couple of weeks and again she phoned for a chat. At this stage I began to realise she was going to stick by me regardless of my denial! At least until the results came back confirming my fibrous breasts!

So, the results came back and, lo and behold, I did not have fibrous breasts at all! I had cancerous breasts - at least one, anyway. Again, there was Lee to give support and copious bits of paper containing all kinds of interesting facts and figures. These were duly filed (by me) into a cupboard until my head could deal with it all - after Christmas, sometime I thought.

On holiday in Sydney and thoughts  of the upcoming surgery were constantly bombarding my mind. So, whilst wandering around Darling Harbour, I phoned Lee to talk through a few issues (as you do). She answered and chatted to me! Bear in mind, this was New Year week! Was she on holidays? I don't know, and selfishlly didn't even ask! It's all about me, you know! But she did answer my queries and reassure me that my decision making was OK.

After the mastectomy, again Lee was there to chat and give more printed matter to both Andy & me. This time I read some and left some obviously lying around for the boys to pick up and peruse. None of them did! The "Teenage boys & cancer" books etc are still exactly where I left them, except now with a not unreasonable layer of dust! Boys deal with things in their own way.

Then I found out I needed to go back for "re-excision". So, at 2am one morning I decided I'd have the other breast off as well. How to contact my surgeon? It was only 3 days until my surgery and I wouldn't be seeing my surgeon again until surgery day. Then it came to me! Lee! She'll sort it for me! However, you'll be pleased to know (and so will she be) that I didn't phone her then, but rather waited until about 9am to talk through my feelings with her. I think it was about at this point that Lee became "MynewbestfriendLee"!

After surgery (No.3) she was there again. She gave me some breasts! Multi-functional breasts! When I am not wearing them, I can use them as a teaching tool for breast feeding demonstrations!

A selection of my new breasts!
Can even mix and match them!

She organised the physiotherapist to see me. She even selected my wig for me! "I know just the one for you" she said. And she was right! Main comment since I have had my new hair style is that I should have gone burgundy with spikes years ago! However, although the wig was ordered, my hair started to fall out before the selected wig had arrived. Again, a quick phonecall to MynewbestfriendLee and problem solved! We met in the wig room in her lunch time (don't know if she ate that day) and spent the time trying on various wigs. I came away with the initial selection. We both agreed it was the best for me.

Now it is 8 months since our initial contact, and still she is my resource person. I need a PICC line put in - I'll just have a chat to MynewbestfriendLee about that. I am due to start radiotherapy soon, just have to see the radiologist first. I'll  definitely need to have a quick chat to MynewbestfrienndLee about it all.

No matter when I call, she always answers or gets back to me as soon as she can. And I am sure I am not her only client, or that she treats me any differently to all the others. I now understand why Jane McGrath wanted everyone diagnosed with breast cancer to have access to a breast care nurse. Because everyone needs a NewbestfriendLee!

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