Two-time cancer survivor Charmaine Woods with her mother Carmel South and friend Lenore Grayham at Josie's Biggest Morning Tea in Kumbia.
Two-time cancer survivor Charmaine Woods with her mother Carmel South and friend Lenore Grayham at Josie's Biggest Morning Tea in Kumbia. Madeline Grace

Local's battle with breast cancer, again

CHARMAINE Woods said the support from her community, along with a positive attitude, is what got her through two rounds of breast cancer.

Ms Woods, who grew up in Memerambi, was at Josie's Biggest Morning Tea in Kumbia this week and said events like it were important when it came to raising awareness and funds. Especially in rural areas.

"Women need to get checked every year. Especially those out in rural areas. Make the effort. Getting diagnosed early could be the difference between life and death," she said.

"Cancer doesn't discriminate. You could be diagnosed at any time and at any age. Whether you have a family history or not.

"I never dreamed this would happen to me. But it did. And, it could happen to you too."

Ms Woods was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 when she was in her 40s.

She said she was completely taken aback by her diagnosis.

"I didn't see it coming," she said.

"Even though I have a long family history, I just didn't think it would happen to me."

Ms Woods described her treatment as being quite aggressive.

"For the first lot of breast cancer, I had to have a mastectomy. This was followed by a lot of chemo and then radiation," she said.

"I was in remission and had been for 10 years when I was diagnosed with cancer in my second breast.

"I had a lot of complications. Thankfully I had a great support network and a positive attitude."

Ms Woods went to Toowoomba to have her treatment and said her medical team was great.

"Especially the breast care nurses. Thank goodness for them," she said.

"I was living in Gympie when I had my second diagnosis.

"It was a really traumatic experience for me. I thought I was done with that part of my life."

In the first instance, the breast cancer was a lump.

"But it couldn't just be removed because it made its way into my lymph nodes. This means the cancer was actually making its way into the rest of my body," Ms Woods said.

"The chemotherapy was very aggressive because of this. They had to send that poison everywhere.

"I was very fortunate that the second time around I didn't need as much treatment. It was just a very small spider vein."

Ms Woods said if she hadn't gone for her yearly mammogram she may not have had such a smooth recovery.

However, she did face some complications following her treatment.

"I know everyone talks about chemo brain but it's definitely real," Ms Woods said.

"The chemo really did affect my memory and ability to focus.

"Which makes sense. It's poison to kill your cancer cells. So of course it's going to also negatively affect your good healthy cells."

Without the support of her friends, family and community Ms Woods said she wouldn't have been able to stay so positive.

"When I was living in Kingaroy nearly everyone I knew would bring me cooked meals and baked goods, offering to help with housework, and just really making an effort," she said.

"My number-one piece of advice for anyone who has to work through cancer is to have a positive attitude. It makes the world of difference.

"You can't just turn up your heels and say 'well, that's it, I'm done'. You've got to pick yourself up and keep going. Got to keep fighting."

South Burnett


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