AFTER staring an aggressive breast cancer in the face and coming out on the other side, Leah Yaxley now wants to help other women who are going through what she did.
“One in eight women get breast cancer and I want to be there for those women,” says Leah, 32, of Calwell, who was featured on the cover of “CityNews” on June 13.
In the story she spoke about her grade 3, triple positive invasive ductal cancer and since, after six chemotherapy treatments and a double mastectomy, has received some “phenomenal” news.
“The oncologist said: ‘Leah, I don’t get to tell many people this but you’ve gone from a grade three to a grade zero’,” she says.
“I don’t think I’ve cried so much in my life. I made him tell me three more times.”
Leah, who went in for a double mastectomy in early August and had 21 lymph nodes from her left armpit removed, had expected to be told they were full of cancer.
“Thankfully, all the lymph nodes came back clear,” she says.
It was extremely lucky news, according to Leah, who says only about 10 per cent of women with HER2-positive breast cancer, see their lymph nodes clear from cancer.
“If it was in my lymph nodes I would have been looking at 28 rounds of radiation,” she says.
“I still have to go back to the oncologist every three weeks to get herceptin, which stops the HER2-positive from mutating into cancer.
“And I have five years of testing every three to six months until I get told I’m officially cancer free.”
But until then, Leah wants to help others with breast cancer and, as a qualified nurse, she wants to move from being a nurse in GP practice to becoming a breast-cancer support nurse.
“So many people I didn’t know banded together and supported me and now I want to pay it forward,” she says.
“I want to bring women positivity. I want them to know, you’re not alone and you will get through this. There is a light at the end of the tunnel if you just push through.
“It’s important to remind people this when they can’t lift their head off their pillow because of chemotherapy.”
Leah’s journey has also given her a new view on life and she’s determined to go out and enjoy it.
“Life is just so short and I’m not taking anything for granted now,” she says.
“Before, I used to always pre-make plans and was a bit OCD but now if I make it through the day, it’s an awesome day.
“I came out the other end and now I’m ready to live life.”