Cancer 'doesn't have to be a death sentence': video diary
A WIDE Bay woman has shared her breast cancer journey through a video diary in an effort to demystify the disease and encourage other women to face it with optimism and courage.
Kim Pointon, a mother of three girls from Monto, is undergoing treatment in Bundaberg for her second bout of breast cancer in four years, following a diagnosis in June in her left breast.
In 2012, she recovered from cancer in her right breast, after receiving treatment both in Bundaberg and Brisbane.
Kim, 51, has spent the past few months working on a video diary with Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service, which was released on the WBHHS Facebook page today in honour of Pink Ribbon Day.
"I wanted to do the video for Breast Cancer Awareness Month because I figured if I could do anything to help other women face the situation and show them that they could get through it, then I would," she said.
"I want women to know that a breast cancer diagnosis doesn't have to be a death sentence. Yes, it changes your life a bit, but in many cases you can deal with it and move on.
"I can't speak for women who have had to have a mastectomy, because so far I haven't had to have one and I can't say how much that would affect you.
"But speaking for myself, I don't feel any different. Yes, I had a lump and yes, it was cancer, but in all other ways I feel just the same as I did before and my life goes on."
Breast cancer remains the most common cancer among Australian women. Survival rates continue to improve in Australia, with 89 out of every 100 women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer now surviving five or more years beyond diagnosis.
WBHHS cancer care service operations director Ray Johnson said he hoped anyone watching Kim's story took some inspiration from it.
"The idea behind this video diary, which is a first for WBHHS, was to look at the experience of one woman with a view to it being very relatable for other women confronting something similar," Mr Johnson said.
"But Kim's story isn't just aimed at women who are already undergoing treatment - it's there to remind women of all ages to be breast aware.
"Early detection is the key to surviving a cancer diagnosis, and in Kim's case it was her vigilance and understanding of the changes in her own body that led her to seek advice and then treatment.
"And now that we have the new Bundaberg and Hervey Bay Cancer Care Centres, and a private partnership enabling us to deliver radiation therapy services locally, Kim and many others like her can receive all their treatment in their own region rather than having to travel to Brisbane."
Regular mammograms are a key way for women to stay on top of their breast health.
You can book a free mammogram with BreastScreen by calling 13 20 50.
The program targets women aged 50-74 because this age group is most at risk of developing breast cancer, but it also accepts women in their 40s or 75 and over.
Kim's breast cancer story isn't over yet. She is now in her second cycle of chemotherapy, and she must still undergo radiation therapy and Herceptin treatment for several months.
But she is confronting her cancer journey with determination, optimism and good humour, with the unwavering support of family and friends including partner David, daughters Natalie, Ainsley and Sammi-Jo, and mum Merle.
Kim continues to run the cafe she opened a few months ago with her family, and also does a daily school bus run in Monto.
"Breast cancer is really common - you're not on your own. Have a good support crew around you, face it head on and do your best to get on with your life," she said.