Hello, my name is Nat Beard. My husband, Darren and I are farmers living north of Cunderdin- two hours from Perth. My first diagnosis of Breast Cancer was in 2013, at the age of 32. This was a complete shock to our family, having three children who were 9, 7 and 3. Living in a rural area presents many challenges but small communities are amazing as dear friends held weekly sleepovers for the kids while Darren and I attended chemotherapy at The Mount Hospital.
Meals, lunchbox snacks etc were donated and we certainly felt blessed to live where we do. I found online BC chat groups very helpful, I didn’t know anyone in our community who had breast cancer, let alone anyone close to my age. At the beginning of 2014 I stayed by myself at Crawford Lodge beside SCGH to receive my five weeks of radiotherapy. The kids were juggled between Darren on the farm and my Mums house in Perth. It was the most lonely point in my life. Thankfully my schedule allowed me to attend our youngest child’s first day of school. The end of my active treatment came in mid 2014, as I was receiving Trastuzumab infusions three weekly for twelve months.
For almost five years post initial diagnosis we lived a very full life, taking opportunities to travel as often as we could. My lifelong dream of attending the Tour de France became reality as we spent seven weeks travelling Europe, we’ve visited theme parks in Queensland, and attended the AFL grand final. I was fortunate to go to Singapore and Sydney on girls trips. Late 2017, we travelled to Victoria to spend Christmas with my extended family. After attending the Ashes Boxing Day Test, we went on to visit Tasmania. I had become quite ill with a terrible cough and struggling to breathe. It was in Hobart on New Years Day 2018 I was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. My whole world seemed to crumble down around me. I was in the hospital alone as Darren had gone back to our holiday house to look after the kids. Having to tell Darren, then our children and my parents (via phone), was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. We cut the trip short and flew back to Perth for further testing. It all seemed so grim, until Professor Chan gave us a treatment plan. Her complete and unwavering commitment to me and my health always fills me with such positivity. My mantra is to just do exactly what Professor Chan asks of me!
I’m not going to lie, treatment this time around was very tough. Our eldest was already away in Perth at boarding school and our middle child was due to start. The boarding school community were wonderful and took extra special care of the girls. CanTeen are also a great help for the girls. My body responded well to the chemotherapy, after 15 doses we were able to stop, I was then successful in gaining a place in a trial. The trial was a huge commitment, extra travel and testing was required.I swear my car could drive itself from home to Hollywood Hospital by itself! We bought a camper trailer and have spent time travelling our beautiful state. Our love of music has meant we’ve downed tools to attend concerts and shows.
I started attending the PYNKS coffee catch ups. I’ve met and made friends with some wonderful women, it is a long drive for me to attend but I believe the friendships I’ve made is worth it. I’d urge anyone who is Stage 4 living in a rural area to reach out to the breast care nurses and to try and attend the PYNKS catch ups, we have such a unique connection. I leave the meetings feeling as though my ‘cup’ has been filled, ready to tackle the next month! Some of the members even came to visit me for lunch on the farm.
The trial medication stopped working towards the end of 2018, I was taken off the trial and we started a new treatment course, which I’m still receiving now. I travel down every three weeks to receive the transfusion in the Starcevich Suite. The nurses in there are amazing and I love having a chat and a laugh, you will often find the PYNKS ladies crowded in one cubicle having a mini catch up and sharing our recent adventures. The support we receive from Amanda, our advanced breast cancer nurse is amazing and I love catching up with all the staff in Professor Chan’s office. In case you hadn’t noticed I love to have a chat, it can get lonely living in an isolated community.
Recently, I celebrated my 40th birthday, each milestone brings with it such wonder that I’m still here but is also tinged with sadness as I wonder which ones I’ll miss in the future. I had the most wondrous evening surrounded by family and friends. I was also happy to be able to fundraise just over $7000 for the Breast Cancer Research Centre- WA, an organisation so close to my heart. I’m not planning on going
anywhere fast, I’m remain eternally optimistic that someone will find a cure and my girls won’t have to worry about this terrible disease.
Nat Beard – Patient