'Terrifying ordeal': Mum lives fear-free life for two boys
MY NAME is Kiarra and I'm a single mum to two gorgeous boys Jake and Sam.
I have been asked to be a 'face of relay' for 2016 because I have survived a cancer diagnosis.
On July 31, 2013, at the age of 35 years old I was told I had Stage 3 Grade 3 breast cancer. My world had already been shattered by numerous tragic events so to be told that I now had a battle on to save my life was a moment I will never forget.
To be told you have cancer is the most terrifying ordeal anyone can endure and my first thoughts were to my boys.
Will I see them grow up?
It's no thought any parent wants to think about and have in jeopardy, but it was a reality for me.
At 35 years of age I knew nothing about breast cancer.
I thought it was an older woman's disease.
I thought it affected bigger breasted women and I had breastfed both my sons for over 12 months each, so thought my risk was reduced greatly.
For this reason I had not once done a self examination on my breasts.
The only reason I found my lump was because it was so big and could easily be seen. I had lost a lot of weight which I thought was due to a very rough six months.
My father had passed away from pancreatic cancer, my sister had just finished treatment for cervical cancer and I was trying to deal with a very painful marriage separation.
The weight I lost was because of my stress and I believe this is what helped me to notice the lump.
I had no other symptoms whatsoever.
After my diagnosis the next few weeks were and still are a blur as I travelled to and from Brisbane seeing breast surgeons, oncologists, IVF specialists, naturopaths and radiation oncologists.
I just did what I was told and put my life in the hands of my team of doctors.
I was told I would need six months of chemo, six weeks of radiation and an additional 12 months of an oncology treatment called Herceptin.
Ultimately it was my choice as to which treatment I had but I knew how much chemo can destroy a body.
I was booked in on a Monday morning to have my portacath inserted but I woke up early that day and decided that I just couldn't do it.
I called the Mater here in Gladstone and in tears I told them to cancel my surgery for that day as I wouldn't be going ahead with chemo.
I was just so confused and had no idea which treatment would keep me alive.
I felt lost, scared and just wanted someone else to make the decision for me.
It would have been no more than five minutes later that my phone rang and it was Dr Schreiber.
He said one sentence to me that I will never forget.
"Kiarra if you don't have this treatment you will not be around to see your sons grow up."
Harsh words but my reality and it was what I needed to get my head straight and make the right decision which was to have conventional treatment as advised by my doctors.
From that day on, I changed my focus from fear to positivity and I made myself believe I would get through this and I would survive.
As I look back now on my life during cancer treatment it still seems a bit of a daze.
Maybe it is because of the highly toxic drugs I was getting fed into my body or maybe that was just my way of coping.
It's a bit like childbirth.
You just remember the good parts and not the bad painful parts.
So I remember this.
I remember the amazing support I had from my beautiful family and friends, I remember the fundraising events that were organised to help me pay my medical bills, I remember the never ending messages of good wishes and health from old friends, new friends and even strangers.
But what I remember the most is my two gorgeous sons. They were and still are my cure. On the days I felt like crap and struggling to get out of bed, I would just look at them and my strength and determination to get through this would triple.
Now move along nearly three years and I am feeling fantastic. I eat very healthy and I stay fit, and everyday I wake up and appreciate that I am still here and living my life with my sons. I do believe that stress caused the cancer cells to accumulate and take over my body and so I make sure I now live a stress-free?life.
Cancer makes you re-evaluate yourself and your life. Life is too short so I am forever telling friends and family now to not allow stress in your life.
Make changes or choices to lead a healthier, more relaxed lifestyle and appreciate what you have every day.
Being diagnosed with grade 3 stage 3 cancer does unfortunately mean I have a high chance of reoccurrence so I can't say I don't have that fear on my mind.
Everyday it is there but as soon as I feel fear I have an overwhelming desire to push that aside and conquer on with my life.
My boys were only one and three years at the time, so too young to understand the reality of a cancer diagnosis.
This was a blessing in a way as they always brought me back to reality and back to my normal life that I love so much, and that is being a mum.
So it is for this reason when I was asked to be one of the "relay for life" faces for 2016, I asked that it not just be me but my sons as well. They were by my side through it all and rode the long scary emotional journey with me the whole way. Without them I don't think I would have coped.
Why I chose to do this is because there is so much hype out there surrounding alternative treatment for cancer and it is so easy for vulnerable cancer patients to be swayed. So I want to promote the conventional treatment the Cancer Council supports does work! I believe with lots of research our amazing scientisists and professors will find a cure for cancer one day.
Put simply I want a cancer free world for my boys and I will do whatever I can to contribute and make that happen!