IT was friendship and family which pulled Ida Kruize through the year from hell.
In January 2012, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, despite having had no history of the disease in her family.
After undergoing chemotherapy two months later, she discovered she also had endometrial cancer, resulting in further surgeries and treatment.
Just when things were looking up and she thought she was finally in the clear, she was diagnosed with breast cancer in October.
The Beckenham resident said her friends and family were the strength that kept her going throughout the ordeal and continued to be a source of support as she dealt with the after-effects and the resulting surgeries.
“I had a friend, Shirley, who went through my weight loss journey with me. She was in her 70s and she came to visit me when I was in hospital,” she said.
“We had a really good friendship, I used to go to her place after chemo and six months later she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and unfortunately she never made it.
“I watched her take her last breath as she left this world; it was a moment I will take with me forever. She wrote me a letter for me after she’d gone.
“I have another friend who got me through cancer, she was my inspiration.
“She battled cancer three times, had children with disabilities, she’s an amazing woman, my go to person, my mentor.”
Despite having just celebrated her fifth anniversary of being cancer free, Ms Kruize said she still deals with the physical and mental anguish today.
“I always say cancer took my femininity from me. It took my ability to have children, I lost my breasts to it, it took my hair away to some degree,” she said.
“Your life is never the same after cancer. I want to start mine again, I want to be me again, I want to work full time again.”Fortunately, Ms Kruize has channelled her experiences into helping educate people as part of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, which runs through February.
“I just wanted to make more women realise they have to be aware of all this, they need to be educated; ovarian cancer is covered up by too many other things,” she said.
“The signs of ovarian cancer are also the signsof irritable bowl syndrome, I think that’s where a lot of the misdiagnosis has come from.
“I’ve done a lot of things because of this cancer, I did a resilience seminar, I’ve given talks to women, advocating and educating is the most important thing.”
If you would like to raise money to aid the fight against ovarian cancer, you can do so by holding an afternoon tea before or on Teal Ribbon Day on February 28.
To register, visit www.afternoonteal.net.au.