It was always going to be a battle for Julia Dickson when she discovered that she had breast cancer only a week after giving birth to her son, Max, 18 months ago.
Diagnosed with the aggressive triple negative breast cancer, Julia found a lump on her breast during the pregnancy, but its appearance was put down to the changes that occur during pregnancy.
“Once it was discovered to be cancer in July of 2016 I was put on a very rigid schedule of chemotherapy which was six rounds of double doses followed by twelve rounds of single doses,” she said.
In December of 2016 the lump had shrunk from a 10 centimetre lump to one of around six centimetres and it was removed at Westmead hospital.
Then in January of 2017 Julia underwent six weeks of radiation therapy and was placed under a watch and act category, with check ups with her doctors every three months.
For the first 9 months everything seemed fine, until she began to feel less than well.
“I had a few headaches in the weeks before and one day when I got home from work I couldn’t get warm, I was too cold or too hot and shivering and vomiting so my husband Brent took me to hospital in Bathurst.”
They said I had to get my will sorted, within six hours, before they flew me off to SydneyJulia Dickson
A CT scan at the hospital revealed that the original cancer tumour had metastasised and had spread to her brain.
“They found three tumours that were each around three centimetres in diameter, and that was very scary as they were pretty sure it was the breast cancer that had spread,” she said.
They sent the scans off to Royal Prince Alfred (RPA) Hospital Sydney as they suspected that the tumours were bleeding, and it was whilst they were waiting that the doctors gave her some advice that no one wants to hear.
“They said I had to get my will sorted, within six hours, before they flew me off to Sydney,” she said.
In RPA Julia underwent an MRI to make sure that the tumours weren’t bleeding and that they could operate.
“It was a seven hour operation to have the tumours removed and that came back as showing it was the same triple negative breast cancer that had spread to the brain,” she said.
That wasn’t the end to the story though, after enduring the operation on her brain, the news that spots had been found elsewhere on her body was not welcome.
“I have three spots on my chest that need to be dealt with,” she said.
“I have a spot on my lung and I have two lymph nodes that are quite inflamed.”
Currently undergoing more radiation therapy in Orange, to her brain, where more tumours have begun to reappear, Julia will then once more have to endure another course of chemotherapy for the lumps in her chest.
“The chemotherapy is beginning next Wednesday and we’ve also been told that immunotherapy is the next bet for treatment,’ she said.
The cost though of immunotherapy for triple negative breast cancer isn’t covered by the PBS, and a ball is now being organised to raise funds to help cover the cost.
“The cost of each treatment is around $6,000 and we can’t go into a trial either because the brain cancers aren’t stable,” she said.
The Jingle for Julia Fundraising Ball will be held on March 3 at the Blayney Community Centre.
Cost is $75 per person for a three course meal. Tickets are available at Blayney Public School and Newman’s Service Station.