When and how did you first find out you have breast cancer?
I found out I had breast cancer in 2005. I was always breast aware and found something strange in my breast and had a mammogram which was inconclusive so I rang the surgeon and a lumpectomy was scheduled on my insistence. since I had a strong family history
What were your main concerns after being diagnosed?
Death. If I had to have chemo losing my hair and looking like a freak with a deformed body.
Can you tell us about your course of treatment and how that has gone?
Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone pills for 5 years. Luckily the treatment was successful.
How did your family and friends react to the news?
Friends were amazing and very supportive. I tried to hide most of it from my daughter who lived abroad until I knew I would be ok. She knew I had surgery but did not know much about the treatment as it was hidden.
How did you cope emotionally?
I feel I coped very well as generally I am a very positive person. If I wanted to live and enjoy life I had to be positive. I used humour to cope for example I’d say that my oncologist was my hairdresser or that I had just had a boob job just to keep what I was going through as light as possible.
Did you face any obstacles during your treatment process? If so, how did you overcome these obstacles?
If you have a positive outlook you will succeed in all things. My motto was and has always been ‘ I have the scars to prove I am healthy’. I also coped by writing and being open about the entire experience, be it through articles in the papers and tv.
Where there any programs or services offered to you that would help with the treatment process?
In 2005 I was offered no help at all. I had to cope alone and even find a proper prosthesis on line.
How did you manage the costs of treatment?
I was lucky enough to have premium cover health insurance.
How has breast cancer affected your outlook on life?
It has affected me for the better. When I said Thank God I got cancer people look at me in horror, but for me it has changed my life for the better in every way. I’m so much more positive and I live each day to the full. It has taught me to not be negative but to look at the positive side of each and every day. Health is everything in life and not wealth. Without health you cannot enjoy life.
What advice would you like to give to others about breast cancer?
Be positive and that positivity will help you through so much. Talk about it and you will get help from everyone. Be a survivor and hold your head up high. Each day of your life is a bonus.
What are you doing towards raising awareness about breast cancer?
I was the first person in Malta to talk about having breast cancer and showing my scars in the media. By doing that I met Esther Sant and Helen Muscat who were about to launch the Action For Breast Cancer Foundation and I joined them. ABCF and the activities we do are aimed at lobbying for a better service for breast cancer patients which is our main concern.
Apart from this I still write articles on my progress and my second diagnosis and reconstruction in 2010 too.
I also talk to many people just being diagnosed and every week spend time voluntarily at the National Cancer Platform office at Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre on behalf of ABCF.
I will raise awareness until the day I die as I feel I owe it to people