At 29 years old, Erin was busy raising the kids with her husband, working full time and enjoying everything life had to offer in Northern NSW. When Erin received a shock breast cancer diagnosis, her whole life changed as she underwent intensive treatment for aggressive stage 3 breast cancer. Erin was supported through her experience by Grafton McGrath Breast Care Nurse Cathy.
In September 2021, Erin was lying in bed when she felt a solid pea sized lump in her left breast. Over the next few weeks, she kept an eye on it, checking on it every night but never thinking it could really be something concerning. Life was busy, working full time and spending time with her close-knit family, and GP appointments were often hard to come by. When Erin did go to the GP the following month, she was sent for a precautionary ultrasound and the results came back as an inflamed lymph node.
While it seemed like it was nothing to worry about, Erin’s GP recommended she keep an eye on it and come back if anything changed. By December, the lump had grown in size and Erin was sent for a biopsy the following month. Erin was two days into a new job in early February 2022, at a training day, when she looked down to her phone to see a series of missed calls - from her GP, her husband and her mother. By that point, months after she first felt the lump, Erin already knew what the GP was calling to tell her - she had breast cancer.
Erin had stage three locally advanced breast cancer, which had spread to multiple lymph nodes. When it was recommended that she have chemotherapy before surgery to remove the cancer, Erin struggled with knowing the cancer was still inside her body. Fortunately, Erin was able to turn to her McGrath Breast Care Nurse, Cathy Brophy, who helped her understand why it was important to have the chemotherapy pre-surgery.
“I always had so many questions, that I thought were silly questions, but Cathy would just explain everything to me. She broke down why I had to have the chemotherapy first and reassured me that it would all be ok. You can’t just pick up the phone and call your GP or oncologist, but I could always call Cathy.”
Erin has undergone a double mastectomy, full lymph node clearance and radiation, with the support of Cathy the whole way through, and has been receiving chemotherapy until April this year. Throughout treatment, Erin was training to participate in a fundraising walk from Newcastle to Sydney in January this year but after experiencing complications from her treatment, including an infection that led to Erin being hospitalised for several weeks before Christmas last year she sadly had to pull out at the last minute. Thankfully Erin is now back home with her family and is soon to wrap up active treatment.
McGrath Breast Care Nurse Cathy on Erin:
Cathy has been a McGrath Breast Care Nurse since 2009, supporting patients in Grafton and the surrounding areas. It was Erin’s mum that originally reached out to Cathy on behalf of her daughter, once they received Erin’s breast cancer diagnosis. Cathy helped the family through the whole process, answering questions, providing information and resources and helping Erin understand her treatment options. Cathy is passionate about ensuring all her patients, like Erin, feel listened to and understood throughout their diagnosis and treatment.
“Erin had so much going on in her life raising the kids, and she’s exceptionally young. She is just a beautiful person and it was a difficult time. I was glad to be there to help make the experience easier however I could.”
“Every person’s breast cancer is different and everyone has different priorities. It’s about understanding what your patient needs and helping them make the choices that will work best for them.”
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