Battler threads her way through cancer

Jane McMillan has created several embroidered wall hangings, depicting her battle with breast...
Jane McMillan has created several embroidered wall hangings, depicting her battle with breast cancer. PHOTO: JOHN LEWIS
Never underestimate the power of a needle and thread when things in life start to unravel.

Jane McMillan will be forever grateful to her grandmother for teaching her how to embroider because it has helped her through one of the most testing times in her life.

The 46-year-old has been battling breast cancer for the past four years, and has dealt with the difficult journey by embroidering the story of her fight on three wall hangings.

Ms McMillan was diagnosed with a stage 3 tumour which was growing quite quickly, so she had a lumpectomy, followed by several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

"I did one of the hangings while I was having radiation, and it’s got images of my CT scans on it.

"The second one is made up of the various comments that people made when I was having treatment — some of which were not very useful, but most were very reassuring.

"And the third one was done when I was having chemo and I was quite unwell in hospital, going through a period of delirium."

She said the embroidering had been very therapeutic for her.

"It was a way to get over it emotionally as well as physically."

The wall hangings were displayed at a recent Otago Embroiderers' Guild meeting.

She hoped they would serve as inspiration to get any lumps or abnormalities checked out sooner rather than later.

"I had a very small lump. It felt like a frozen pea and it was there for quite a long time before I got on to it and had it checked out, because it felt like it was so small and insignificant.

"It was very fast-growing, so it was lucky the doctors caught it when they did.

"After this experience, I want to encourage others to get things like that checked out more quickly.

"If in doubt, get it checked out. Don’t waste any time."

Ms McMillan said she was still waiting for a final prognosis, but believed things were looking good.

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