Striving to be strong during cancer journey
TWO weeks before Christmas Sandra Brien was preparing for family fun over the festive season when she received the news of a cancer diagnosis.
Doctors had picked up a heart abnormality with amyloid protein; tests including bone marrow showed she had multiple myeloma.
Warned that it could kill because of heart issues Sandra immediately began chemotherapy, but first, with husband Paul, she sat down to tell her children.
"It was really difficult to go home and tell the kids that I might have only five days here, a 30% chance that I would see Christmas 2015," Sandra said.
In the 12 months prior, there had been indications things were not right with Sandra's health; the keen bike rider becoming more breathless.
"Instead of me leading the pack I was trying to catch up with the pack," Sandra said, with her beaming smile.
A little breathless after she and Paul did the honour lap for survivors and carers around the oval on Saturday, Sandra recalled how it was now just seven months since first being told to go home and get her affairs in order.
Because of the protein affecting her heart the chemo could kill her straightaway, that there was uncertainty how the treatment would affect her.
However, among the positives, she said, was a realisation of what living everyday meant.
"I know my hour glass doesn't have too much sand in it but you never really know how much sand you have got," she said.
She spent her 51st birthday in hospital but doesn't recall it because she started her stem cell transplant and was "zoned out" on medical drugs.
Paul said their ongoing journey and uncertainties since diagnosis had been one of many highs and lows but they strived to be strong.
"I don't know where I stand in the scheme of things. It is incurable," Sandra acknowledged.