Once a taboo topic, breast cancer has now become a feature of everyday discussion. This largely owes to its extensive coverage in the media, which has lead to a spike in general cancer awareness. Cancer council initiatives such as the Girls' Night In, Pink Ribbon and the Mother's Day Classic fun run have become well known and well endorsed by both Australian women and men. Consequently, breast cancer is seldom the death sentence that it once was and, more often than not now, is simply a chronic disease that can be managed with treatments that are fast becoming more holistic and personalised.
This week on Open House, Leigh's wife Meredith - along with her oncologist Dr John Boyage - candidly discussed the intimate details of Meredith's own personal battle with the 'Big C'.
For Meredith, as for many women, her diagnosis came "completely out of the blue". Even after finding a lump and having her initial mammogram (several more followed to confirm her diagnosis), she remained relatively positive, reminding herself of the recall letter she had received that reassured her that 90% of the women who required a follow up mammogram do not have cancer.
It was not until she'd had several mammograms and an ultrasound, and the other women who were in the waiting room with her had gone home, that "anxiety began to set in" for Meredith. Despite panicking though, the day that Meredith received her diagnosis became a vital day in her journey of faith. "[That afternoon]," Meredith recounted on this week's Open House, "I got a glimpse beyond the moment [and realised] that everything was in God's hands."
From John's perspective, despite the guilt that Meredith expressed over and over about her condition, Meredith had done all the right things. She had found the lump and gone straight to her doctor - something John affirms is integral to early detection. "If [women] have the slightest suspicion, they should go to their doctor," John emphasised to Leigh, acknowledging that "female intuition" is very often correct.
Aside from learning about her body and how vulnerable we human beings actually are, Meredith's encounter with breast cancer also taught her about her faith and God's amazing faithfulness. "Looking back at my journals, I'm now surprised at how isolated and sad they were because I actually remember [my experience with breast cancer] quite positively," Meredith shared, "in my memory is what I learnt about God [in the process]."
Dr. Boyage views Meredith's journey, and the journeys of his other patients, fairly similarly. A high school scripture teacher in his spare time, John is very much aware of how important it is to sustain trust; "in the face of our sinful world, we need to trust in God with all our hearts."
To hear the rest of Meredith's story and Dr Boyage's expert views on how to detect, prevent and approach breast cancer, tune in to the rest of their interview with Leigh.