Mosgiel woman's message: cancer can hit all ages

Tash Mitchell, of Mosgiel, wants to raise awareness that breast cancer can affect young people....
Tash Mitchell, of Mosgiel, wants to raise awareness that breast cancer can affect young people. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Tash Mitchell was just 23 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer last year.

Shortly after moving into her new home with finance Keanu, she found a lump on the side of her left breast.

After a visit to her doctor, she was told it was most likely an exposed lymph node, but to go back if it was still there, or had changed, in four weeks.

That time passed and the lump remained.

An ultrasound eight weeks later showed some swelling under her arm pit, and the following week she had a fine needle biopsy.

"It all unfolded really quickly from there," Tash, now 24, said.

Three days later she received the breast cancer diagnosis.

In the following two weeks, she had to get her head around starting chemotherapy while also undergoing IVF.

Losing her hair, being too exhausted to celebrate Christmas, and cancelling her wedding were the toughest parts of the journey.

"Right from the start I’ve had amazing support.

"Don’t get me wrong, there’s been lots of different waves of emotions but I don’t like to live on the negative side.

"You’ve got to look for the light at the end of the tunnel."

From the beginning, she and Keanu agreed to continue to live their lives the best they could.

That included going away for weekends, attending a concert and celebrating New Year’s Eve.

Tash said she was lucky to have chemotherapy on Mondays, so by the time the weekend came around she was starting to feel better.

Chemotherapy was “cruel”; it affected her bones and muscles and left her feeling nauseous.

"It was a rough time but it wasn’t all that bad.

"I think people think it’s a death sentence when they hear that word [cancer] but it’s really not. It’s just life, unfortunately.

"You’re dealt the bad cards, you’ve just got to play the game I suppose."

Now, a year later, Tash is feeling good and wants to raise awareness that breast cancer does not discriminate — it can affect young people as well.

To mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month and one year since she was diagnosed, she hosted a pink party last Saturday.

Her final active treatment was earlier this month.

"As much as it was a rough time I feel life after breast cancer is better.

"It puts things into perspective and I don’t sweat the small stuff.

"I just remind myself everyday that I made that second appointment which saved my life."

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