Tania – “I found the lump in my breast thanks to my daughter.”
Tania Cercone was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 at the age of 32.
“At the time I was diagnosed I was (and still am) happily married with three children; Christopher who was 16, Nicole who was eight and my baby, Hannah who was two. Our lives were busy, running our family dairy farm located on the lower Murray in a rural community almost 100kms from Adelaide.”
“My husband is Italian and as his parents are very traditional my diagnosis created problems, as they saw my breast cancer diagnosis as a ‘bad’ disease which complicated matters.”
“I found the lump one night thanks to Hannah. I had been getting up on an hourly basis so I decided to do a self-check and found the lump. Call it women’s intuition/ gut instinct, I knew it was going to be bad.”
The next morning Tania contacted her local doctor’s clinic.
“When I saw my GP he was 99.9% certain it was only a cyst as I didn’t have any of the known risk factors (except that I was female), but we needed to check.”
“During this time I had so many tests, most of which I had to drive to Adelaide for. I read every book I could find about breast cancer.”
“The worst test I had was the bone test where I was injected with radioactive fluid then underwent a scan a couple of hours later.”
“I had previously asked if there were any side-effects that I needed to be aware of, as I would need to organise someone to drive me down to Adelaide and back, a babysitter, and then there was the milking and calf feeding, etc. Life didn’t stop just because I had been diagnosed. But I was assured that I shouldn’t feel any side-effects.”
“But, after the test, within 30 minutes of leaving the city I started feeling weird, within 15 minutes I was feeling very sick, five minutes later I shouldn’t have been driving but as I was close to home I kept driving. When I got home I left the car in the driveway and crawled into bed and ‘died’. I never wanted that test ever again.”
Within one week of my breast cancer diagnosis I was in my local hospital having the lump and all of my lymph nodes removed. Due to advances in research this no longer happens.”
In addition to the surgery Tania underwent four cycles of chemotherapy, 32 days of Radiotherapy, plus hormone therapy, followed by surgery to remove her ovaries. She was on Tamoxifen for 2 years and is now on Arimnidex (aromitose inhibitor).
“Removing my ovaries was one of the hardest decisions I had to make. Essentially I was given the choice; my health or having the baby we were planning for. It was so difficult.”
“But my health and being cancer-free was the most important thing for me, my husband and my children. I wanted to give myself the best possible chance to beat the cancer and be here to see my children grow up.”
Since her diagnosis & treatment, Tania has become involved with various organisations to promote breast awareness, early detection & support services, especially to younger women.
“When I was diagnosed, there was hardly any support for women under 50, let alone a woman in her early 30s.”
“Medical research is incredibly important, without research into breast cancer, its causes and treatment we won’t be able to stop it from affecting women and men.”
It’s been nine years since her diagnosis and Tania believes her cancer journey has made her a stronger person.
“I have learnt a lot about myself and my life has been enriched by all of the awesome women I have met who are also cancer warriors.”
“Through vital research we all hope for the chance to beat this disease and not have to ever worry about our breast cancer coming back.”
“Hopefully this will be a reality one day soon.”