Personal Challenge

Facing the challenge: My own cancer story

(Read my first e-news here)

Slide1I had started to come around.

I was initially confused by the unfamiliar surroundings, the lights, sounds and movement. In the distance I could hear some faint voices singing ‘happy birthday’. Then I realised where I was, it was intensive care, I had come through 10 hours of surgery, one of the nurses must have been having a birthday. My body felt so fragile, like I was just held together with sticky tape.

It was my birthday as well.  I was 34.

It had been an eventful 12 months, I had lost my mother after a long battle with cancer. At the time I had noticed an abnormality in my breast, but as it wasn’t a lump, I didn’t think it could have been cancer. In fact, the C-word had never entered my mind.

After initially seeing a dermatologist, a biopsy determined that there were cancerous cells in my breast. A further, more invasive biopsy confirmed that I needed a mastectomy.

If you have ever been on the cancer-ride, you know it can feel like you are caught up in a fast-moving snowball, gaining momentum. Decisions to be made, plans to put in place. Our boys were aged 11 and 8 at the time, it was a bit confusing for us all. We appreciated the wonderful help of our family, friends and my work colleagues who rallied around.

I was a candidate for a new medical procedure called TRAM Flap, using the body’s own tissue to reconstruct the breast. I had a mastectomy and reconstruction at the same time.

This was 19 years ago.

My birthday is late November and I am reminded of this experience each time my it comes around. It is fitting that I am undertaking the CanToo challenge at this time of the year. I was the recipient of cancer research, as you, someone close to you may have been, or perhaps they are right now.

Facing a challenge like cancer changes you. I remember saying at the time, that it wasn’t something I would ever choose to do, but have I emerged a stronger and more resilient person because of it.



What does it take to inspire, empower and equip leaders for world where change is the only constant? I am an educational consultant and PhD candidate with the ILETC Project at Melbourne University. I facilitate workshops and regularly speak in the areas of: People, Place and Pedagogy in the new paradigm Facilitating change Challenging current practice Learning space design Equipping leaders to navigate change International education context I am passionate about rethinking school and learning to inspire and equip young people for an exciting future. To contact Anne and find out more about the work of SCIL or make contact visit:

2 comments on “Facing the challenge: My own cancer story

  1. Thank you for sharing your story Anne. I know it will inspire many others.


  2. Thanks for sharing your story Anne, and congratulations again on becoming our very first fundraising star!


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