Ms Faithfull had to put her career as head chef at Perth’s Balthazar Bar and Restaurant on hold.
She is planning a cocktail night for 400-plus people at Perth Zoo and aims to raise $30,000 for the National Breast Cancer Foundation and increase awareness of the illness.
‘All my friends are around 25 to 30 and none of us self-check,’ she said.
Ms Faithfull had no remarkable family history of breast cancer, and first knew something was wrong just before Christmas when she found a dimple in her breast. During the week’s wait for her biopsy results, she scoured the internet for possible explanations.
‘I thought it couldn’t be cancer, that’s ridiculous, but at the same time, in the back of my mind, I just knew.’
On December 30, she learned she had a grade three tumour. She had surgery days later to remove the lump, and the lymph nodes to which it had already spread.
She has started chemotherapy and radiotherapy will follow, before a decade of hormone therapy.
The treatments have already brought debilitating pain, nausea and tiredness.
‘I do 15-hour shifts, but this is a whole different ball game,’ she said.
Seizing moments she feels well, Ms Faithfull has planned a fully catered cocktail sundowner with oyster bar, burlesque dancers, auction, DJs and live music.
‘I just want women to be aware that at this age they should self-check ” the earlier, the better.’
A researcher and clinician specialising in breast cancer told Community News that the latest figures, from 2012, showed a record 1400 breast cancer cases in WA.
University of WA School of Medicine and Pharmacology associate professor Andrew Redfern said cases had more than tripled since the 1980s and now one in eight women faced getting breast cancer.
He said WA’s population had grown dramatically and aged overall since the 1980s, and breast cancer risk increased with age.
‘It is phenomenally rare in the 20s,’ he said.
‘In young women there is a higher risk of it returning, though, and they also get these nasty cancers, which are harder to treat.
‘Breast tissue can be changeable at that age, with thickened and lumpy areas coming and going, but women should all be familiar with their own lumps and be breast aware for the future.
‘Certainly start checking by your 30s.’
Professor Redfern said roughly half of cases could be traced back to lifestyle factors, but the other half remained a mystery to researchers.
Treasured Chests Sundowner (18+ )
When: Sunday, April 27, 5.30pm
Where: Gate 1, Perth Zoo, South Perth
Cost: $150, includes food, beer and wine