BALLARAT hairdresser Kate Gale credits idle chatter with a client with saving her life.
In 2008, Mrs Gale was cutting the hair of a client who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Soon after the client left, the then 27-year-old hairdresser underwent a self examination and found a 3.5-centimetre lump in her right breast.
“I had never done a self examination before, but this woman’s (cancer) story really scared me into doing one,” the mother-of-two said on Monday.
The lump was found only nine months after the birth of Mrs Gale’s second daughter Gemma, and doctors initially thought it was a cyst associated with breastfeeding. However the lump significantly grew in the six weeks since it was first discovered.
After two ultrasounds, Mrs Gale finally had a mammogram, which confirmed her initial fears. A lumpectomy failed to remove all the cancer, so the young mother opted for a full mastectomy of her right breast.
What followed was eight rounds of chemotherapy over a six-month period, six weeks of radiotherapy and 12 months on the drug Herceptin.
Her cancer journey inspired Mrs Gale to write a book about breast cancer and become a regular speaker to groups and organisations about her experience. This year, she is ambassador for the Mother’s Day Classic in Ballarat, a six or 12-kilometre walk or run around Lake Wendouree on Sunday, May 11.
Thousands of people are expected to participate in the event, which raises funds for the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
Mrs Gale’s book, The Breast Is Yet To Come, initially started out as a diary of her cancer journey, but was professionally published to help other breast cancer patients.
“I started writing a diary essentially to get my feelings and thoughts off my chest ... it was my therapy,” Mrs Gale said.
Since publishing the book, Mrs Gale has helped raise not only awareness about breast cancer, but also much-needed funds for research into a cure.
“When I was first diagnosed, it was all about how much money I could raise. Now, through public speaking, I also want to raise awareness about breast cancer.”
While it may sound strange to some people, Mrs Gale said she was grateful for her cancer diagnosis.
“My life is so different ... I look at things differently and I don’t sweat over the small stuff. I just go with the flow and enjoy everything,” she said.
For more information about the Mother’s Day Classic or to register, visit mothersdayclassic.com.au.