Facing cancer with hope

Catherine Regan has metastatic breast cancer and has recently joined the PYNKS support group at Perth's Mount Hospital
Catherine Regan has metastatic breast cancer and has recently joined the PYNKS support group at Perth's Mount Hospital

Ms Regan (48) is fighting metastatic breast cancer, which means the original cancer diagnosed in 2008 has spread to the spine, pelvis and lungs.

But thanks to a regular chemotherapy regime, healthy lifestyle, support network and positive outlook, she has defied predictions in 2011 that she had ‘eight weeks or a bit longer’ to live.

Ms Regan’s test results are good and she has joined Pynks (Positive, Young, Nurturing, Kid/Family Focussed, Strength Giving), a support and information group set up by Professor Arlene Chan at Perth’s Mount Hospital.

Though Ms Regan was initially unsure of joining, she has embraced its benefits, which include positive fellow members, information about research trials, health and dietary requirements, and leisure activities such as craft and relaxation.

‘It was really surprising the amount of people that were there,’ she said of her first meeting in January.

‘You don’t realise how extensive this (cancer) is but, on the good side, you are not the only one in that place ” lots of people are in the same spot as you.

‘There is so much (treatment options) out there and so much hope that if that (one type of treatment) doesn’t work, something else will and that’s really positive.’

Catherine’s ‘fight of her life’ began five years ago when she received a stage-three breast cancer diagnosis after finding a small indent under her arm.

After a mastectomy, reconstruction of her left breast, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, doctors gave her a clean bill of health.

But in 2011, tests revealed secondary breast cancer and a grim prognosis. Ms Regan sought a second opinion, started regular half-hour chemotherapy sessions, kept herself fit and healthy and embraced her specialist’s positivity.

‘I’ve seen my two daughters married and I’m looking forward to a cruise, to a holiday in Europe and to grandkids,’ she said.

‘I’m looking ahead and keeping occupied.

‘There are blips along the way such as when I ended up in hospital with dehydration a few weeks ago. But I don’t want to be tagged as that woman with cancer who is going to die ” I am the woman who will keep on living life.

‘It’s the fight of my life but life is good and I’m happy.’

Pynks, which meets every two months, is for younger women or the ‘young at heart’ whose breast cancer has spread to other parts of the body.