Empowering Women to Be Breast Aware – Sherri’s Breast Cancer Story
This October in Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are thrilled to once again be the Australian charity partner of Intimo who are donating 10 per cent of all purchases made in fundraising bookings to vital breast cancer research.
Intimo is dedicated to raising breast cancer awareness amongst not only their own clientele, but the wider Australia and New Zealand community.
One of Intimo’s very own Fit Specialists from Melbourne Sherri Holtham knows all too well how common breast cancer is, diagnosed herself at the young age of 48-years-old, only six months after her own sister’s diagnosis. Despite her diagnosis, mother of four Sherri never let breast cancer define her, she led the way in her cancer journey, inspiring and encouraging others on the way.
In 2013, Sherri found herself feeling really tired, suffering from lots of migraines and having horrific night time sweats.
“I always had quite lumpy, cystic breasts so for quite a long time I was having six monthly ultrasounds to see if there were any changes,” Sherri said.
“In Aril 2013 I had my regular check and everything was fine, but from the months of May to September I was back and forth to the doctor. They thought I was perimenopausal.
“Then one morning my youngest son said to me ‘what’s going on with your boob?’ I had noticed it in the shower too, my nipple had become inverted.”
Concerned, Sherri drove herself to the closest specialist centre in Ballarat where she ended up spending the entire day having mammograms and other tests.
“By the end of the day the doctor informed me my breast tissue had changed quite dramatically, and I should prepare myself as the diagnosis didn’t look good.
“He told me to contact my local GP the next morning, but before I had the chance I had a call from my doctor asking me to come in that day. I knew it wasn’t good news.
“I was told I had 10cm lobular carcinoma in my left breast, which is why my breast was so swollen.”
In a state of shock, Sherri had to break the news to her four children along with her parents and loving sister who had only just finished her own treatment for breast cancer a few days before.
Deciding early on to become an advocate for her own cancer journey, Sherri never treated her cancer as a burden and soon became a voice of encouragement and positivity not only for her herself, but for her family and other women.
“Prior to getting the full breast cancer diagnosis I was borderline being in denial. My first thought was why my breasts? They’re what makes me a woman. But I look back now and just laugh, you learn very quickly that it is what’s inside that connects with people.
“I chose to have a double mastectomy because I had a bilateral carcinoma and the word bilateral just stuck in my head. I just thought to myself, I will do this once, do it well, make a difference, I am not planning on coming back to do it again.”
In October 2013, Sherri went in for her double mastectomy followed by six months of chemotherapy and then six weeks of radiation before her breast cancer treatment was over.
“I’m glad I opted for a double mastectomy because after the surgery doctors found an undetected small carcinoma in my right breast. I knew prevention was better than cure.”
Now four years on from her diagnosis Sherri continues to encourage and inspire others through her role with Intimo.
“I’m extremely grateful for my cancer journey. It has changed my life and enabled me to finally realise my worth, strength of character, focus and determination,” Sherri said.
“For us at Intimo, the bra is only a vehicle to interact with women, to help educate them on the benefits of regular testing and to be aware of any changes in their body.”
Proud to work with Intimo and be part of the partnership with ABCR during breast cancer awareness month, Sherri believes ongoing research is vital to ensure other women won’t have to go through the breast cancer journey.
“When I look back to when I was first diagnosed, the statistic was that one in four women will have some form of breast cancer by the time they are 85-years-old. Now it’s one in eight, so in four years researchers have made extraordinary progress.
“I’m totally in awe of researchers, I think they are extraordinary people committed to a cause. It can’t always be easy but certainly their research nor their positivity is going to continue without funding. It’s so important.”
Visit the Intimo website to find out more about this wonderful organisation and fundraising opportunities.