We Interrupt this Program for an Important Message about Breasts

My gorgeous friend Kate trying on wigs

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.

Left: Kate back in 1992. Middle: Kate at a couple of our Christmas dinner’s in the 1990s. Right: visiting me in Wales in 1999

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.

Comments

  1. Oh, Imogen, I’m so sorry for your loss. (with tears in my eyes as I write this) I have lost 2 friends far too young to breast cancer and it does leave a huge whole in your heart and in your life. I, myself battled breast cancer ( two primary cancers, one in each breast, two years apart from each other) when I was in my thirties, and it is so admirable to me the way you described how your dear friend faced hers. I crumbled as I went through it, and am in awe of those who do it so valiently and inspire others.

    I, too would like to encourage women, even the younger ones, to have lumps checked early. It saved my life.

  2. I am sorry to hear you lost your friend. She seems to have been a very brave woman. I feel I should appreciate my health and life more now.

  3. This is so very sad, she was too young.

    I was just having my breasts x-rayed last week. I´m lucky enough to live in a country where every woman is offered mammography every two years between 40 and 70, but of course it happens to women younger than that, and men, too! It´s better to go to the doctor one time too many, just to be sure.
    Viktoria recently posted..The Secret of SuccessMy Profile

  4. Imogen –

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope the many memories you and your family have of Kate will provide some small comfort.
    Vix recently posted..A week of wandering in and around bold, beautiful Vancouver BC [pt 3]My Profile

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