And fellow cancer survivor Robyn Savage, of Sorrento, credits a regular mammogram for her life.
Both women are in their sixth year of voluntary service with the Joondalup Wanneroo Relay for Life organising committee.
Bernice was at a lunch meeting at Cockman House last year with the Wanneroo Historical Society when her husband asked if she would go home to get his camera, while he stayed at the meeting.
‘When I got back, members had left two sausages, some pavlova and the sticky date for me,’ Bernice said. ‘Normally I wouldn’t eat the sausages, because my dad was a butcher. He told me bad things about sausages.’
However, Bernice ate the small meal and at four the next morning, in agony, she was rushed by ambulance to the Joondalup Health Campus. Doctors thought she had gallstones.
‘They told me I would have a simple operation and my troubles would be over,’ Bernice said. ‘But an X-ray revealed a slight smudge on my pancreas.
‘The doctor asked if I was a heavy drinker. I don’t drink or smoke, so they continued with the tests.’
A few weeks later, Bernice had major surgery for pancreatic cancer. She was on the operating table for eight hours. She dropped 16kg but is now in good heath with tests due in November. The greasy sausages had brought on an early attack of her pancreas.
Robyn went for her two-yearly mammogram in Padbury last October, feeling fine and in good health. ‘I was shocked when told I had cancer,’ Robyn said. ‘I couldn’t believe it, I felt so well.
‘I was all set to leave for Ireland on a three-week holiday. The doctor said to go and have some fun, but see him as soon as I got back home.’
Three weeks after her return, Robyn had a double mastectomy and reconstruction.
‘After a program of chemotherapy, I feel fine,’ she said.
Robyn said the organising committee would like to hear from other cancer survivors to join them on the Survivors Walk of Honour and afternoon tea at the relay.
‘We are also keen to hear from anyone who can volunteer a few hours of their time to help with the relay,’ she said.
To register as a cancer survivor or volunteer, call 0497 384 486 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Joondalup Wanneroo Relay for Life will be held over 24 hours on October 19 and 20 at Arena Joondalup.