Imogen McIvor has always wanted to host a Pink Ribbon Breakfast and is seizing her chance to do this year. At age 26, her world was flipped upside down when she was diagnosed with triple positive breast cancer, an aggressive grade 3 tumour that has spread to her liver and spine. She is using the month of May to challenge herself by wearing pink, walking 3,300 steps a day and completing 9 burpees a day.
My partner found a lump in my breast in November last year. At 26 years old, I am well under the breast cancer screening age, so I went to see my GP and had an ultrasound done.
I was diagnosed with triple positive grade 3 breast cancer. One and half weeks after my diagnosis, I had a partial mastectomy and lymphnode biopsy. I then moved from Auckland to Wellington to be with my parents when I started treatment. I am currently undergoing chemotherapy and have had seven sessions so far.
It is an aggressive tumour but is responding well to treatment. After the chemotherapy, I’ll start radiation.
At the time of diagnosis, I took the news surprisingly well. I was rushed into the medical world and there was so much to decide and do, appointments and scans to go to. Everything moved so quickly, it was like being on the “cancer treadmill”.
But it was definitely challenging. Especially with my age and no family history of breast cancer the diagnosis came completely out of the blue, and flipped my world upside down very quickly.
I’ve always wanted to host a Pink Ribbon Breakfast and am using it as an opportunity to challenge myself throughout the month of May. I plan to wear pink everyday, walk 3300 steps in honour of the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer every year, and complete 9 burpees representing the number of women diagnosed daily.
It’ll be hard for me, as with all my treatments I’ve had to take time off exercise. Pre diagnosis, I was used to doing a lot every day and at the weekend, so this has been a complete 180 for me! I’ve had to slow down and take lots of naps.
My work has been great and very flexible in allowing me to work from Wellington at home, and keeping going with work has been a great distraction and achievement.
I will finish my month of challenges with an afternoon tea with friends and family, where I can talk about my journey and raise awareness for breast cancer and Breast Cancer Foundation NZ.
My advice to all women is to check yourself and to be super aware of your own body. Know the different types of indicators for breast cancer, it's not just lumps, as misshapen breasts and nipple discharge can also be symptoms.
It is really important to know what you are looking for and how to look for it, so you can get any changes checked out as soon as they appear. Get checked by a GP, and when you’re there push for an ultrasound scan if you’re under the screening age.