One year on since she finished treatment for inflammatory breast cancer, Jess Higgins said she is taking every day as it comes.
The young mother said she is fighting for her kids and after what she has gone through can’t take life too seriously anymore.
“I was diagnosed in 2016 with advanced breast cancer and within weeks I was in treatment because of how advanced it had become,” Jess said.
“I had chemotherapy to minimise the risk of the cancer spreading first up and them underwent a mastectomy and further radiation after that.
“But the good news is I finished all my treatment over a year ago and I am slowly getting my hair back which is exciting.”
Jess said that despite her feeling like something wasn’t right, it still took over a year to get diagnosed because doctors thought she was too young to get breast cancer.
“By the time I was finally diagnosed it had been nearly an 18 month process,” she said.
“I had kept going to the doctors telling them something wasn’t right, but they kept saying I was too young to have cancer and with no family history it wouldn’t be a problem.
“I can’t focus on the what if, but if I had my time again I think I would gone for a second or third opinion because by the time they realised the cancer it was advanced.”
She said talking about the raw side of cancer helped her get to the other side of treatment.
“Almost unwillingly I ended up writing about my journey – from diagnosis to treatment and all that entails – on Facebook,” she said.
“My Facebook page ‘Do it for the Girls’ was my chance to be really raw about what I was going through, to obviously help me process everything, but also to help and inspire others going through something similar.
“When I was going through treatment I looked as good as I felt. Being exposed like that was hard but sharing my journey was something that I could control and in that moment it was what I needed.”
Jess was an ambassador for the 2018 Mother’s Day Classic fun run in May and will be speaking at the Pink High Tea fundraising event on October 27 at The Westport Club.
“Continually fundraising is a good thing because it brings people together. I am really excited about being invited to speak at this year’s Pink High Tea fundraiser and tell my story.
“This year we are really focusing on it being a happy, supportive and embracing event rather than a sad event.
“I am still here and I am embracing life and that is something I want to get across. Because of my diagnosis there is a high chance I will get cancer again in the future but I can’t focus on that. I have to focus on the now.
“I have made some amazing friends because of my cancer and want to help others going through cancer. It can feel quite isolating but it is so important to know you are not alone.”
Nationally, one in eight women and approximately one in 700 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime in Australia. Eight people die from the disease every day.
In the Port Macquarie-Hastings area specifically, breast cancer is among the top three common cancers, with a higher than average breast cancer incidence rate and mortality rate in this region.
“Things like this high tea are so important because researchers are looking at so many different things from new medications, better and more targeted treatments, to a cure, and it all takes time and money.
“So please consider coming along for a great day and to raise some money.”
The Pink High Tea is on October 27, from 2-5pm at The Westport Club. Tickets for the high tea are still on sale and can be purchased here.
For more information click here.