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Gladstone woman reclaiming her life after breast cancer

Lana Rhodes Want to show that cancer can affect young people, and has a huge impact on your life/body. Photo Mike Richards / The Observer
Lana Rhodes Want to show that cancer can affect young people, and has a huge impact on your life/body. Photo Mike Richards / The Observer Mike Richards260915CANC

BY THE end of Monday, Gladstone's Lana Rhodes hopes to rediscover her femininity.

After two tortuous years, Lana is in Brisbane preparing for breast reconstruction surgery.

The 28-year-old says she lost a lot of self confidence when doctors were forced to remove both her breasts during her battle with cancer.

While it will be another two weeks before she returns to her home city after Monday's operation, she is already planning to host a "booby party" and the thought of going bra shopping brings a big smile to her face.

For the past two years every time Lana has looked at herself in the mirror she has been reminded of just how cruel life can be.

A scar runs across her chest from one armpit to the other - the result of a bilateral mastectomy.

While the mastectomy ended the cancer, it was just another step along the psychological and emotional journey she has faced.

Now, preparing for her breast reconstruction, she says she's feeling relieved and proud.

"I can't wait to go bra shopping. It's going to be fantastic."

"I'm nervous, anxious and excited all at the same time.

"I'm feeling a lot of relief too, after such a long journey I feel like it's finally come to an end and there's some happiness at the end of the journey.

She said she wanted to put the sickness behind her and focus on being happy.

"My treatment finished years ago but my journey wasn't over.

"This is the beginning of the end of my cancer battle."

>> READ: Seeing mastectomy scars 'the worst day of my life'

Lana had her breasts removed three months after she was diagnosed with cancer.

An option of immediate reconstruction was not offered at the risk of the cancer returning.

"It destroyed me (having my breasts removed).

"I remember going to hospital, and I was still with my ex at the time, he turned to me and said, 'are you ready' and my reply was no.

"That really just burnt into my mind, it was the last moment of normality that I had."

She said losing her breasts was a big knock to her self-confidence.

"I also didn't have any hair at the time, so to lose that last feminine feature just destroyed me."

Lana, a proud, strong young woman, hid her pain from her friends and family.

She always had chemotherapy done on her own, and said she would bare a smile in the toughest of times.

She never showed her scars to her friends or family.

She saw them as a horrible reminder of the toughest time of her life.

But, in a bid to show the harrowing aftermath of cancer, she posed for photos, baring all, for this paper.

"I couldn't stand to show anyone. It just hurt too much, it gave me too many memories, it was too much of a reminder of what cancer did to me."

Ms Rhodes was always happy and healthy.

When she was diagnosed with cancer, her son had just turned one.

It was also on her 27th birthday that she first met her oncologist.

"It was a horrific time - it was a huge tumour that no one expected to be breast cancer.

"I felt tired, I was a stay at home mum, my fiancé was working away and I didn't think it was unusual to feel tired.

"I find it really hard at the moment to remember because I am trying to be so positive."

As her journey comes to an end, Ms Rhodes wants young women to know they are not immune to the disease.

Breast cancer is expected to remain the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in 2015.

"It's not selective and it can hit anyone at any time of their life."

Topics:  breast cancer, breast cancer awareness, editors picks, gladstone, pink ribbon



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