I’m spend a lot of time thinking about breasts. Very little of that time is thinking about seeing a flash of royal breast as has been in our news these recent days (all that Duchess Catherine pap shots stuff is of no interest). But I spend time thinking about how to dress mine to look less obvious, and how to dress other people’s to flatter in the way they want.
But sometimes breasts can be deadly. A few days ago my friend Kate M died of complications from her breast cancer. Kate was part of my family for the better part of 20 years as she and my brother were together from the late 1980s til sometime around 2004.
Kate was the most beautiful, generous kind woman. Sadly she never had kids of her own, but was the greatest aunt to all her nieces and nephews. My kids fondly remember us going to dinner at her place where after dinner she got out her ‘useful box’ and proceeded to make things with them to keep them entertained as we chatted around the dinner table.
In February this year Kate came to visit me in Melbourne with one of her sisters. I remember at the time thinking that she looked unwell but put it down to her being tired from working too hard. Her skin didn’t look healthy, it looked like the skin of someone who has been poisoned. It was only 2 weeks later that she discovered that the lumps in her breast were cancerous, and that the cancer had already spread to her bones and they were already starting to break. Her body was being poisoned from the inside by the cancer.
Kate had ignored those lumps for some time, as her breasts had always been a bit lumpy and she was always so busy with work, getting around to visiting a doctor wasn’t the top of her priority list. She told me that they had ended up biopsying around 12 lumps.
Unlike most people, Kate understood all the medical jargon, she had spent years as a paediatric nurse and had a Masters in Paediatric Nursing. She had spent years of her life nursing kids with cancer. She knew what would happen to her.
Instead of wallowing in self-pity, Kate spent her last few months doing all the things she had wanted to do. She went swimming with sharks, and died while on a trip to England, Scotland and Iceland (to see the Northern Lights) just a few days ago, between bouts of hormone therapy to treat her ever-growing, bone breaking cancers.
She had only just turned 45. Kate was inspiring to the end – she didn’t wallow, she got on with living.
I’m sure that Kate would want you all to take a lesson from her untimely death, if you feel a lump, go get it checked out straight away. Don’t wait. Waiting was what killed Kate.
Please share this with all the women you know. The sooner the medical attention, the better the outcome.