Rebecca McConkey is a breast cancer survivor. Her strength and courage radiates when you speak to her. She beat cancer.
Like thousands of other Victorians, Rebecca has committed to Dry July 2019 – she is driven to fundraise for St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne’s Cancer Centre where she spent many hours throughout her treatment.
Rebecca’s Cancer Journey
Rebecca was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer in 2018 and had to undergo a lumpectomy, radiotherapy and chemotherapy at St Vincent’s Hospital.
After discovering the lump, she went to her GP who organised for her to have a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy at St Vincent’s. When Rebecca had the surgery, the medical team discovered her cancer was a bit more aggressive than they first thought. So, it was suggested she do a short course of chemo - which is four rounds across 12 weeks - to mitigate any risk.
When Rebecca meets new people, one of their first impressions is her positivity. She was thankfully able to harness this trait to remain upbeat during the whole process. She did say having the love and support of her wonderful husband, Jochen and her two kids, Heide (7) and Amos (10) helped her to cope.
Rebecca is fortunate to work quite close to St Vincent’s. She did impress staff by riding her bike to the hospital to get her treatment.
When asked about her experience at St Vincent’s Cancer Centre Rebecca said, “The team at St Vincent’s were really great, so caring and helpful.”
Scalp Cooling Caps
During her treatment at St Vincent’s, Rebecca was offered the opportunity to utilise the Scalp Cooling Cap program, to help reduce her hair loss.
At first she was a bit unsure about the cap. She thought it would be uncomfortable, and she was right, it was quite heavy and incredibly cold. Rebecca described it as a similar sensation to when you jump into freezing water. “At first it’s a bit of a shock to the system but then the body adjusts and you become quite numb.”
As a result of using the cap, Rebecca’s hair only fell out in patches. “I didn’t need to shave it all off and it’s grown back really quickly and evenly. My friends and family have all commented about my hair and my hairdresser thinks it’s actually thicker than before.”
“It’s helped me from a mental perspective to move ahead and start to feel normal,” Rebecca said.
The money raised by the St Vincent’s Dry July team in 2018 enabled an additional six Scalp Cooling Caps to be purchased.
Post treatment, thankfully Rebecca is now feeling really good. “Physically I feel ‘normal’, in fact my treatment feels like it was years ago.”
All her follow up tests have been really positive. Rebecca will need to continue to take one of the drugs forever, otherwise there is no long term treatment plan.
Rebecca is looking forward to participating in Dry July this year for the first time. “It’s an opportunity for me to give back to the amazing team at St Vincent’s Hospital who offered me such wonderful help and support throughout my journey as a patient.”