Mystery appointment saves Leah Gilleland’s life, and she plans to give back this Purple Bra Day


Leah Gilleland had a mystery appointment to thank for catching her breast cancer at an early stage.
Leah Gilleland had a mystery appointment to thank for catching her breast cancer at an early stage.

A MYSTERIOUS mammogram appointment proved responsible for saving a Medina resident’s life.

Leah Gilleland has always been a stickler for annual mammography tests due to her family’s history, and about two years ago after having a routine check she received a call for a follow-up test.

There was a mass of tissue; however, it was dismissed as it was found to be ok.

A short time later, a letter arrived advising her another appointment for a test had been made.

It was at this mystery appointment a second mass of tissue, about 2.5cm in diameter, was discovered; this time it was cancer.

“No one knew who ordered the test,” Ms Gilleland said.

“I got in contact with my doctor and he said it wasn’t him, he had no idea why it had been ordered.

“He contacted the hospital and know one knew there either, it appeared to have been a mistake.”

But that mistake saved her life.

“If that test appointment hadn’t been made, I wouldn’t have known for another year,” she said.

“It was my miracle, my way of knowing something was looking out for me.”

With that early diagnosis in 2014, she did not need chemotherapy, potentially saving her a lot of pain and stress.

Instead, Ms Gilleland chose to have a double mastectomy, and she is now completely clear.

However, diagnosis and the removal of her breasts still knocked her for six at times and took an emotional and financial toll.

She had to take weeks at a time off work for surgeries to give her some semblance of a normal female anatomy, which left her in pain.

“I was surprised how much it hurt, it required stretching muscles as there was just skin and bone and it was really painful,” she said.

This was where Breast Cancer Care WA came along as her knight in ‘purple’ armour.

“Breast Cancer Care WA really helped me financially; they paid off my car registration just to take some pressure off,” she said.

“They also introduced my daughter to CanTeen, a program that supports teenagers affected by cancer, and provided me with regular counselling services.”

As a way to say thank you and help others, Ms Galleland will be out rattling tins with a group of others clad in purple on the Mandurah train line and stations this Friday, for Purple Bra Day.

To support Breast Cancer Care WA, register for your free hero pack.