We spoke with Naomi about her breast cancer diagnosis, navigating breast cancer with a young family, and the imporance of supporting clinical trials research.

Being Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

Naomi Richards is a wife and mum of three daughters, Mila, Lottie, and Eden, living in Wagga Wagga. In 2023, Naomi felt a lump in her left breast, and after undergoing days of testing, including a mammogram and an ultrasound, she was diagnosed with breast cancer on 8 March 2023, which also happens to be International Women’s Day.

We spoke with Naomi about her shock diagnosis, navigating breast cancer with a young family, and the importance of supporting breast cancer clinical trials research.

“Before my breast cancer diagnosis, life was what I would call very normal. We were a normal, busy, hectic, happy family, with no stress, no health issues, and not a worry in the world. I was in the shower one night and I was washing under my arm when I felt a lump on the left side of my left breast.”

“I knew straight away that something wasn’t right, so I made an appointment with my wonderful GP, who then referred me on for a mammogram and an ultrasound. So, that was the start of about 10 days of testing, and then unfortunately on the 8th of March, which was International Women’s Day, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.”

“So, while all my friends and family were celebrating being a woman, and I was seeing all these wonderful Facebook posts and Instagram posts about how proud people were to be women, I was dreading every moment of being a woman. I was so scared and petrified and nervous and worried and was experiencing all of those huge emotions. It was just a really awful day.”

How did you approach telling your young children?

A lot of women talk about the decisions around telling their children, if they have any, and whether or not this is something they should do. We spoke with Naomi about the process of telling her three daughters about her breast cancer diagnosis.

“My initial reaction when I was first diagnosed was to keep it a secret. I’m not sure what I was thinking because there’s no way that you could keep it a secret. So, after a chat with my fabulous GP who I wouldn’t be here without, we decided to tell the girls what was happening. But we were really careful in what we told them, and we ensured that what we told them was age appropriate.”

“Lottie and Eden, who are seven and nine, they were told not as much as what we told Mila, who’s twelve. We kept it really simple; we only told them what they needed to know, and we didn’t give them an overload of information.”

“My advice to other women or other mums that are going through this would be go with what feels right for you. We had lots of people telling us different things, what to do, how to do it, when to do it. But we just sat down with the girls, and we just told them what felt right from us at the time.”

“The girls got home from school that day and we sat them down immediately. There was no discussion. It was just, let’s have a chat.”

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We spoke with Naomi about her shock diagnosis, navigating breast cancer with a young family, and the importance of supporting breast cancer clinical trials research.

What was treatment like for you?

“Going through treatment, to be honest, it wasn’t as bad as what I thought. When you talk about cancer and chemotherapy, you only hear the bad stories. You don’t hear the good stories. It’s kind of like childbirth, you only hear the horror stories.”

“I was really fortunate to tolerate the chemotherapy quite well. Apart from feeling a little queasy, I didn’t have really any other nausea or things like that. Some side effects that I had from the chemotherapy was, sadly, I had lost all my hair, which was such a confronting time for me.”

“In the big picture, it probably shouldn’t feel like a really hard part of the journey, but being a female who always likes to look nice, yeah, losing my hair was a huge moment. And it was for the girls as well. They love their hair, and they could see how difficult it was. They actually came with me when my hairdresser shaved my head, and it was a pretty tough day for them as well.”

“The day that I finished radiation was such an uplifting moment. It meant that I was the end of my significant treatment. Although I am on a hormone replacement therapy tablet, it’s just a tablet a day. It’s nothing, there’s nothing to it. But the day that I finished radiation, I sat in the car and cried happy tears instead of sad tears.”

“I feel so good. I really feel great. I am back feeling like my normal self. I am free of all the side effects that come with treatment. My fingernails have grown back. My hair is growing back. And from what the doctors tell me, everything looks great.”

Did you have a family history of breast cancer?

“Before my diagnosis, I did think about breast cancer more so than probably the average person, I suppose, because we do have a family history of it. I’ve just got my genetic testing back, only last week and the results were fantastic, because there was no sign of family history.”

“It just meant that I was very unlucky to have breast cancer, and even though there is still a chance that there could be a genetic mutation, it’s good news so far, especially looking towards the next generation for our girls.”

“My perception of breast cancer has significantly changed. I think, even though breast cancer has been in our family before I never thought it would happen to me. I felt invincible. I just thought it would happen to someone else. But my diagnosis was such a wakeup call and a slap in the face moment, I suppose.”

“It was really a ‘wow this is huge, and it’s happened to me’ moment, and let’s deal with it. And Breast cancer trials to me means an organisation that is vital in providing research to find better outcomes for breast cancer patients.”

“The trials that they are performing means that hopefully one day we can have a breast cancer free world, which is what everybody wants and especially what I want for our girls. My hope for the future is simply a breast cancer free world. Nobody deserves to have to go through the diagnosis, or the treatment, or any part of it. And if we have a breast cancer free world, I know that my girls will be happy and healthy.’

What words of encouragement could you offer someone who was navigating a breast cancer diagnosis?

“I know everybody’s journey, everybody’s diagnosis, and everybody’s feelings are all so different, but I would say just listen to the professionals, listen to your doctor, listen to your surgeon, listen to the oncology team, and just do what they advise. Stay positive. I manifested a lot, I just dreamt of being well, and now I am.”

“So, stay as positive as you can, I know it’s so difficult and don’t worry I still have meltdowns and ‘why me’ moments, but all in all if you can just try and stay positive, I think that helps a lot.”


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