Malea Parker was 40 years old when doctors found she had three tumors in her left breast and one in her lymph node.
She found a lump underneath her armpit and assumed it was an ingrown hair.
Being cautious, she went to her GP who referred her onto a breast cancer clinic.
She said despite being referred onto a cancer clinic, she was not worried about the appointment.
“I said to my team (at work), I’ve just got to go to an appointment, I’ll be back this afternoon and we’ll have our team meeting then.”
“I didn’t come back for a week.”
“I found out that day it was breast cancer, but that was all they knew.”
“It was probably the worst week of my life,” she said.
Family Support Through Breast Cancer Treatment
Malea immigrated to Australia from the Philippines with her mother when she was 9.
She said since her immediate family is small and her husband’s family was an integral support for her.
“Most of my support has come from my husband’s family.”
“They’ve been amazing, I don’t think I could have done it without them so well.”
“My mother-in-law was there for my first chemo treatment. She keeps my kids stable and calls me every day.”
“So, my silver living throughout all this is that I’m loved, and I love them and I’m not alone.”
Malea was diagnosed on a Wednesday. She said her family knew by that afternoon and by the weekend they were all by her side.
“Everyone was down by Friday night just to be supportive for us and just to be there while I cried and had my first panic attack.”
“It wasn’t until Tuesday that we got the results back from the other scans, which told us that it hadn’t spread any further than a lymph node, which was massive for us.”
“I think that was the first big hurdle for me to know that It hadn’t gone further than that and it made it seem more manageable somehow.”
“Like, we can do this.”
Listen to the podcast
Listen to our conversation with Malea Parker about the importance of having a good support system while undergoing treatment.
Why Breast Cancer Research Is Important To Malea
Malea is an advocate for the importance for breast cancer research.
Malea and her family have fundraised for Breast Cancer Trials and she has participated in a BCT awareness campaign.
She said she is grateful for all the clinical trials research that has helped inform her treatment, but she is hopeful for new and better treatments for future women diagnosed with breast cancer.
“There’s got to be better ways,” she said.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the treatment I’ve got, and I’m grateful for chemo, and I will do it again and again, because I know it’s helping me get better, but if we can find a better way….”
“Chemo’s harsh. I haven’t had my surgery yet or radiation but I’m sure none of them are a walk in the park and if we could just find better ways to do it for everyone.”
“When you look at the fact that one in three people will get some type of cancer. One in seven women will get breast cancer, it could be anyone, and it’s someone that we’re going to be close to,” she said.
“If we keep researching and if we keep trying to do things better. I’m all 100% for it.”