I JUST FELT LIKE THERE WASN’T A SINGLE RISK FACTOR THAT APPLIED TO ME

When I was diagnosed, I was young, I breastfed, I was fit, active, healthy, I never smoked, I never drank. I didn’t even have a lump.

Sarajoy, diagnosed 2016
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I BELIEVED THAT IF YOU GET BREAST CANCER, YOU DIE

Sarajoy was fit, active, ate well, never smoke or drank and looked after herself.

And yet despite a very healthy lifestyle, she was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was just 32 years old. It happened six days before Christmas and three months after her mum was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

“I was breastfeeding my son until he was one and when I finished breastfeeding one of my breasts returned to normal and the other didn’t,” explains Sarajoy.

After two ultrasounds Sarajoy was treated for mastitis, an inflammation in the breast tissue commonly caused by a blocked milk duct. It took 6 months before doctors were able to determine the real cause: she had breast cancer.

Despite a suspected family history – testing revealed that Sarajoy had no genetic predisposition for the disease.

“I WAS YOUNG, I BREASTFED, I WAS FIT, ACTIVE, HEALTHY, I NEVER SMOKED, I NEVER DRANK, AND I JUST FELT LIKE THERE WASN’T A SINGLE RISK FACTOR THAT APPLIED TO ME.”

Thanks to advances in breast cancer research, Sarajoy started targeted treatment on her cancer (a therapy which didn’t exist 10 years ago). In the past year, she’s had four surgeries, 29 rounds of chemo, 25 rounds of radiotherapy and countless appointments, tests, scans and hospital visits.

While Sarajoy is thankful for the research that meant her cancer was treatable – she’s hoping future research can give her a better understanding of what caused her cancer to grow in the first place.

“A lot of people don’t realise that there’s so many different types of breast cancer,” Sarajoy says.

“The specific type of breast cancer I have has this really effective treatment that’s really affordable and 10 years ago didn’t even exist. It would just be amazing if everyone diagnosed with any type of breast cancer could have that sort of treatment available to them.”

“I try not to let my cancer impact my life too much. I have an amazing family — my husband and little boy Chet. My life is so fulfilled, even with cancer being a part of that story.”

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Photography: Damian Bennett at Union Management