Bright future for breast cancer survivor Stacey


When Brisbane mum Stacey found a lump in her breast in October 2021, her thoughts immediately turned to how quickly she could have it checked.

Stacey and NatashaAt just 39 years old, Stacey was a fit and healthy mum of two children aged 8
and 5.

But with some nerves about what it might be, she visited her GP and rang around to breast screening clinics in Brisbane to find the soonest available appointment.

“I was worried about the lump, so I was calling around to different clinics looking for appointments. By chance, I called I-Med Radiology at St Andrew’s and they had an appointment available in three weeks which was the soonest I could find,” Stacey said.

“While I was booking the appointment, the staff member asked if I’d like to meet the St Andrew’s Breast Care Nurse at my screening appointment. I said yes without really thinking too much about it,” she said.

Stacey would later reflect on her decision to say yes as one of her best.

When Stacey arrived at St Andrew’s three weeks later, she was met by Breast Oncology Nurse Practitioner, Natasha.

“I saw Natasha before the scan, and she came in with me for my mammogram, ultrasound and then for a biopsy in each breast,” she said.

“She was there, literally holding my hand through the biopsies.”

Stacey and childrenSoon after, Stacey was told the devastating news that the lump she had found in her breast was cancerous.

Like more than 19,000 other Australian women* last year, Stacey was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Later Stacey underwent genetic testing which found a positive result for a mutation of the ATM gene, indicating an increased risk of developing breast cancer, which helped inform some of the decisions about which treatment path she would take.

“Immediately, I asked about next steps and what I needed to do. Natasha recommended I see, Dr Ben Green, a breast surgeon at St Andrew’s and an appointment was arranged for me for the next day,” Stacey said.

“I was also referred to see an oncologist and very quickly a treating team was forming around me.

“Natasha, Ben, and my oncologist banded together and as a team, me included, and we came up with a treatment plan which involved chemotherapy followed by surgery.

Within weeks, chemotherapy commenced and Stacey underwent five gruelling months of treatment.

“The chemo was horrendous, absolutely terrible. During chemo, I also had shingles, low potassium and a blood clot. So, there were emergency visits to hospital and other challenges along the way, but for the most part it ran smoothly,” Stacey recalls.

“I had regular check ins with Natasha and Dr Green along the way, and just knowing Natasha had regular contact with my oncologist gave me peace of mind.

“I was grateful too that this regular communication meant my team were able to help circumvent a lot of issues throughout the process. They knew what was coming next before I did, and they were there to answer all of my questions,” she said.

In April 2022, at the end of chemotherapy, Stacey underwent a double mastectomy with Dr Green at St Andrew’s.

“Compared to chemo this part was much easier on me. A little while after surgery, I had a second surgery to remove more lymph nodes and the port-a-cath which had been inserted right at the beginning for the chemo,” Stacey said.

“Natasha or her colleague Sophie checked in with me every day. They just make life so simple! And it was so helpful to me that they were consistent and constant all the way through.”

Prior to surgery, Stacey also met with St Andrew’s allied health team including women’s health physiotherapist, Emily, exercise physiologist, Emma and psychologist, Anne.

“I have lymphedema from surgery to remove the lymph nodes and thankfully because I was already seeing the women’s health physio before surgery, she was able to quickly notice changes in my arm and was able to get onto treating and managing it straight away,” Stacey explained.

“As terrifying as it was, for me, having everything I needed in one place gave me some sense of calm. I really felt like everything was under control.

“Along the way, Natasha would also share different activities and information with me, like breast yoga and different support groups and survivor programs.

“Everyone has been so helpful, they are genuinely caring, friendly people, and I’m just so thankful I had a say in my treatment plan. I was very much a part of the team,” she said.

Less than a year since finding a lump in her breast, for Stacey the future is looking bright.

“At this stage, I don’t need any more chemotherapy. Given the genetic testing results I received, I have also decided to have a hysterectomy as a precaution, but aside from that, I am now just working with the allied health team on my rehabilitation and to manage the lymphoedema,” Stacey said. 

“The breast care nurses play a vital and incredible role, being the person at the centre who coordinates everything and everyone you need, and I can’t thank them enough for guiding me through this.

“I’m feeling well now and the future is looking good. I feel positive about the future!”

Find out more about St Andrew's Breast Care Service

*Cancer Council