Fighting for Time

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SL Photo 5
Desiree, Andrew and Hayden spend quality time together

At 31, Desiree never thought she would be diagnosed with breast cancer, let alone a diagnosis of secondary breast cancer four years later.

Desiree Arthur is one of Sweet Louise’s first Wellington Members, joining in 2009.

When she found a lump, her GP told her she didn’t need to worry about it. A month later, as a precaution, she had a mammogram, an ultrasound and a biopsy.

“I was so naïve and never for a moment suspected it was breast cancer they were checking for,” Desiree says.

“I got called in a couple of days later and told the news. I was shocked. It was the healthiest time of my life, I was going to the gym and eating well.”

Four years later, Desiree had back pain and was getting short of breath. “I went to see my oncologist, in the middle of preparing for my wedding and working full time.”

Her secondary diagnosis came as a complete shock. She says “I was so close to reaching the five year mark when I could be declared officially free of cancer. I was told just two weeks before my wedding and only months after I’d had my son Hayden.”

SL Photo1For the new mum, her diagnosis changed everything.

“The second time round, as a mum, I was naturally more scared and worried. I need to be around for Hayden.

“I am an organised person and I like to plan where I can. But living with secondary breast cancer, I soon realised that we couldn’t plan longer than six months.”

After her diagnosis, Desiree wanted to meet people with secondary breast cancer and learn more.

“When I was diagnosed, I didn’t know what secondary breast cancer was. I searched online, hoping to connect with people who were in a similar situation. And that’s where I found Sweet Louise.”

At the time, Sweet Louise wasn’t in Wellington. “Needless to say, I was one of the first Members SL Photo 2when Sweet Louise came to town.

The Sweet Louise meetings are a real source of support for Desiree. “I meet with women in a similar situation, we connect and talk freely without worrying about upsetting a family member or friend.

“It’s nice to openly ask questions, hear about different experiences and learn how others cope.”

“Sometimes it’s hard, especially when you form a friendship and the friendship is taken away. But that’s the nature of secondary breast cancer.”

Now, Desiree and her family take each day as it comes and enjoy just spending time together.

“I don’t go on about the cancer, the treatment and the struggle, in an effort to keep things normal for my family.

“We do try to live a normal life – over time we’ve learned not to dwell on the ‘what ifs’ and only take each day at a time.”

The support from Sweet Louise, the Member meetings, vouchers for services or family support, has helped Desiree live with secondary breast cancer.

“Sweet Louise is a crucial part to my journey living with secondary breast cancer. Sweet Louise has always made me feel like I’m not alone.”

Thanks to support like yours, Members can attend monthly meetings – a place to connect with others on the same journey.

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