Breast Cancer Research Centre - WA

Silvana’s Story

Silvana’s Story

Silvana and Graeme –  “The last 10 months have taught me so much. No matter how bad things seem – if you have hope, things will get better.”

Hi, I’m Silvana. In November 2018 I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) and malignant melanoma (MM), commencing treatment under the care of Prof. Chan in December 2018 for MBC.  Between weekly MBC and fortnightly MM treatments there was little time, let alone energy, for much else.  When my chemo was completed and my ongoing MBC and MM treatments were extended to 3 and 4 weekly respectively, at last I was able to focus on thriving, rather than just surviving.

My return to health mantra throughout the past months has been ACT, BELONG, COMMIT. This has enabled me to be open to opportunities when they present themselves. When I was able to engage with others I felt I began to really improve. Activities that interested me included – improving my physical fitness, meeting like-minded people for support, and becoming involved in something creative.

It started with a chance meeting with Joanne, a City of Stirling volunteer who ran ‘Crafternoons’. This was my opportunity to socialise with others but also indulge in some fun craft activities which varied greatly – an art installation for the local library, preserving olives, learning to knit and, currently my favourite, working on activity desk mats for children with special needs. These have been a terrific distraction and loads of fun.

During my treatment, Amanda Goddard (BCRC-WA Advanced Breast Care Nurse) visited and I shared that I was feeling a bit isolated, as everyone’s treatment regimes are so different and it was hard to meet people. Amanda invited me to join ‘PYNKS’, a group run by BCRC-WA for women living with MBC who meet regularly for coffee and activities.  I couldn’t wait for the 2019 dates to be released as this was an opportunity for me to meet women in a similar situation to myself.

Thankfully, at the time of my diagnosis my sister Irene had organised to give my details to a breast cancer charity, and as a result I was notified of a newly formed walking group who meet at some northern beaches twice a week. There I met Maria and Yvonne, the group coordinators, who are not only delightful but inspirational. It was here that I learned about a breast cancer support group they were attending and how helpful it was. Our morning walks down by the coast are a highlight, as they are not only invigorating but an opportunity for great conversation.

At a following ‘PYNKS’ get together Gracie, one of the ladies at coffee, invited me to join their support group. I’ve found the support group is a great opportunity to check in on how you are doing physically and emotionally. You are free to share your breast cancer experience, helpful coping strategies and any concerns you may have, all within a safe and confidential setting. A session can include meditation, which helps to clear your mind, and occasionally a visit from a guest speaker.

Modern medicine is capable of extraordinary results, for which I am eternally grateful, but what I have gained from these groups: advice, encouragement, support, fitness and friendship, have made the world of difference to my outlook and recovery.

Silvana, Maria, Yvonne and Sarah – walking group at Trigg Beach