Sometimes life throws you curve balls, the kind you never expected. Carly Mayberry’s came in the form of a breast cancer diagnosis in 2019. She remembers the day clearly, it was just after her 30th birthday when she found a lump.

“It can’t be cancer - I’m far too young to get cancer,” she assured herself.

Carly was living in London and due to travel to Europe and start work over the busy summer tourist season. But cancer had other ideas…… she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.

The lump was cancerous and it had spread to her bones. Carly was told she had one chance and one chance only to fight this.

“As I walked from the doctor’s office in London, with a heavy diagnosis on my shoulders, the year ahead absolutely terrified me. The words that no one wants to hear, let alone when they are 30, had been delivered to me,” Carly said.

Carly started the medical treatments as soon as possible, but knew that to overcome the cancer, medical treatments wouldn’t be enough.

“I knew I would need to fight this cancer with everything I had by supporting my physical and mental health too and this help must exist somewhere,” she said.

On Carly’s first day of chemotherapy, she sat in the chemotherapy chair receiving her treatment and called around to search for support organisations. She didn’t know anyone who had cancer and wanted to connect to people who understood what she was going through. That’s when she found The Wesley Choices Cancer Support Centre (Choices).

“I dialled the phone number, and walked into the building at The Wesley the next week,” Carly said.

Queenslanders like Carly who rely on Choices can access the free complementary therapies to counteract stress and provide relaxation such as exercise physiology, art therapy, yoga, sewing and crafts. At these Choices sessions, many people form strong friendships. Carly told me it was this connection and support that was key to her road to recovery.

“Throughout my treatment, Choices proved invaluable. When I needed a shoulder to cry on, when I needed advice to make treatment decisions, when I needed someone who could understand, who actually got it - Choices was there. The team at Choices supported me every step of the way and the lovely support from the other people who go to Choices means I’m always in touch with people who know what it’s like to sit through chemotherapy or across from the Oncologist,” Carly said.

We asked Carly what that would have meant for her if Choices wasn’t available.

“My treatment would have looked a lot different, it would mean that I wouldn’t have the healthy life I have now. At the end of treatment, my scans came back clear - something most people weren’t expecting. Support is one of the biggest factors that promotes mental well-being, which in turn supports physical health.”

Today, Carly is healthy, happy and living past cancer and has returned to work supporting others as a psychologist. She has shared her own journey and experience with you to promote awareness about breast cancer and support charities like Choices. Every Thursday Carly still wears pink in support of breast cancer awareness - this was the day she attended treatment each week.

“On Thursdays I still wear pink. I wake up and realise it’s the day of the week that represents taking my life back. Thursdays are a constant reminder of the gift of life and the conscious effort to be present in your own life. It is a reminder of what I’ve been through to get me to where I am now. It’s a reminder of how hard I’ve fought so far.”

You can make a difference to the health and wellbeing of patients and their families by donating today.

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