New book compiled as breast cancer resource
A Brisbane Waters Private Hospital breast and general surgeon has launched a new breast cancer book.
Compiled by Dr Mary Ling and published at the beginning of March, The Central Coast Breast Cancer Compendium is a new breast cancer resource for women that features information on a range of health issues associated with breast cancer aftercare and support and aftercare services.
The Compendium also features women from across the Central Coast who share breast cancer stories in the hope of educating and offering hope to other local women recently diagnosed.
"In surgery, we don't remember days, we remember moments and there is nothing more heartwarming to see the smile on a patient's face when they have taken breast cancer head on and won," said Dr Ling.
"What's even more inspiring about these women, who have been prodded with more needles and endured more surgeries and scans than most people have had in a lifetime, is their courage and humour at a time when breast cancer has intruded into their lives."
Peninsula residents who shared their stories in the Compendium included Member for Gosford Ms Liesl Tesch and Empire Bay mother and daughter Ms Janis and Ms Sarah Livingstone.
In the Compendium Ms Tesch shared her experience of dealing with breast cancer from the sidelines after her mother was diagnosed with the disease.
"Dealing with a cancer diagnosis is a life-shattering experience for both patients and their loved ones and every human response is different," Ms Tesch said.
"Some people cry, others remain silent and some people may hear the words but refuse to believe them.
"When my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer my list of questions was endless.
"What stage was it?
"What were her treatment options?
"What were the right words to say to her?
"But through that difficult time, I know the one thing that got mum through her breast cancer diagnosis was having my sister Trudii, a Gosford-hospital trained nurse, guide us every step of the way.
Ms Tesch's mother Pam, lost her battle with breast cancer during Liesl's first day of racing at the Paralympic Games in London 2012.
Liesl went on to win the gold medal as part of the Australian team.
Ms Tesch said breast cancer rates were 18 per cent higher on the Peninsula than the NSW average.
"Preventative health promotion, healthy lifestyle choices and education are important to our regional community.
"And that's what this compendium is all about, improving awareness, supporting the fighters and celebrating the survivors," Ms Tesch said.
Empire Bay's Ms Janis Livingstone knows first hand the devastation a cancer diagnosis can have on a family.
Breast cancer took her sister Sue at 58.
Her other sister Jenette had a preventative mastectomy after testing positive for the BRCA2 gene and Ms Livingstone herself was diagnosed in 2001.
Her brother Alan developed prostate cancer at 56, related to the BRCA2 gene, and her nephew Morgan was diagnosed with Stage III male breast cancer in 2018.
Her daughter Amy, 35, has tested positive for the BRCA2 gene and faces the heart wrenching decision to have her breasts and ovaries removed and her eldest daughter Sarah, was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer in 2015.
"My first reaction after being diagnosed with breast cancer was one of pure, raw, abject fear.
"I kept asking myself Am I going to die?" Ms Livingstone said.
"Thankfully I have a good friend who is an orthopaedic surgeon and he sat me down and took all the fear away by rationally discussing all the facts.
"I think expressing my fears verbally helped me to allay them.
"When I was diagnosed, I decided to have bilateral mastectomy and later my ovaries removed.
"It was a challenging decision for me, but given my strong family history, the right one for me," she said.
The Central Coast Breast Cancer Compendium is available at Brisbane Waters Private Hospital.
A digital version of the compendium is also available on Dr Ling's website.
Website, 17 Mar 2019
Dr Mary Ling, Brisbane Waters Private Hospital