Emma Crowthers celebrates surviving Breast Cancer
3 July 2020
What were you doing when you were 22? You might’ve been finishing uni or going for a surf with your mates.
You had your whole carefree life ahead of you and the only thing that mattered was where you went on a Friday night and the pool you’d be hanging out in the next day.
When she was 22, Emma Crowther was diagnosed with breast cancer. If you ever thought you had a bad day at work, it’s nothing compared to realising you might not see next week. Imagine not growing up with your best friend and losing 40 years you thought you had. It’s a devastating blow.
In 2009, Emma found a lump on her breast and rang her local women’s healthcare centre. Due to her young age, the clinic did not mark her down as a priority and she had to argue for an appointment. Eventually, they conceded and scheduled Emma for a visit three weeks after her initial call. Fortunately, a last-minute cancellation meant she was able to go in the day after finding the lump.
When you’re struggling against cancer you need as much luck as possible. That cancellation was a massive stroke of fortune; it would’ve taken three weeks to be seen. In those weeks she had the lump cut out so it’s possible that cancellation saved her life. When life in the balance the smallest thing can tip the balance.
The bitter blow had a cruel twist to it; she had no family history of cancer. It was as if lightning had struck her at random. She was the youngest person to be diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia that year.
Emma decided to fight back with an aggressive treatment plan. She endured 15 rounds of chemo, 30 rounds of radiotherapy, weekly IV treatments and hundreds of other injections. The chemo made Emma feel as if people stopped seeing her and saw only the illness. It was as if she had lost her identity to the disease.
“You go from being this fun-loving 22 year old to a sick cancer patient,” said Emma. “You will be told by people if you’re young, you’re not a priority.”
The disease took her hair, her independence and her fitness. It became hard for her friends to recognize Emma through what her disease had become. “I had lost my hair and my eyebrows and dropped so much weight that people I’d known for years would walk past me in the shopping centre and not recognize me.”
Emma says when friends and family stopped saying hello, noticing and talking to her it becoming the hardest part of cancer. She felt isolated, as if she was fighting the disease alone.
Then she discovered Breast Cancer Network Australia.
Emma says, “BCNA provides invaluable support to those going through breast cancer and are committed to improving the services and facilities available for patients.”
BCNA supports Australians experiencing on their breast cancer journey. Their mission is to support, inform, and provide care to help the people behind the illness. BCNA is a network of more than 120,000 members of whom 90 percent have had a diagnosis of breast cancer. Who knows how to help better than those who have been through the same thing?
Her ray of hope was that accurate diagnosis rates had increased. With the invention of new technologies she knew her chances of survival were better now than 20 years ago. On the 30th of July 2019, Emma celebrated a decade of survival. To celebrate, she is going to ‘put her breast foot forward’ and climb the Great Wall of China for BCNA.
She will be using the trip as a fundraising catalyst to give back to the organisation that helped her so much. Her adventure is fully self-funded and all the money raised through her fundraising efforts will go towards helping BCNA continue to support others experiencing breast cancer. So far, Emma has raised almost $3,000 against her personal goal of $5,000.
In February of next year, Emma will be able to stop taking preventative medicines for the first time since her diagnosis. In May, she’ll join fellow BCNA supporters on their journey of celebration through the splendour of Beijing and the heady heights of the Great Wall.