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Updated: Jan 30, 2022

‘Do you have any idea what led to you getting cancer?’ I asked a friend.

'I was completely and utterly overwhelmed with grief,' she replied.

Her grief came first. Then her cancer.

It’s a common tale. Our baggage precedes our cancer.

After my cancer diagnosis, I figured out that in order to give myself the best chance of surviving, I needed to take a long, hard, uncomfortable look at my baggage. Here is some of the baggage I share in my soon-to-be- released memoir, Breastless.

I was…

Two when I thought I was going down in water,

Five when I pushed a boy off a slippery slide,

Six when I was forced to eat fish paste sandwiches,

And seven when I refused to apologise.

Eight when I got hair bobbles,

Ten when I guessed the number of jellybeans in the jar,

Eleven when my father showed me the meaning of friendship,

And twelve when I rode a wild brumby.

Thirteen when I learned how to inhale smoke without coughing,

Fourteen when I hung out with the cool group,

Fifteen when I called a nun a ‘fucking bitch',

And eighteen when I got worried about having a flat chest and big feet,

Twenty-five when a young man embarrassed me in a shoe shop,

Twenty-seven when I was given a patchwork quilt,

Twenty-eight when I got cracked nipples,

And thirty when I took a self-defence class.

Thirty-eight when a teenage girl told me she’d been raped by her father,

Forty-five when I noticed that my sister’s voice was changing,

Forty-six when I took my sister to a faith healer,

And forty-seven when I chose to have a big life.

Forty-nine when I cried for my sister,

Fifty-four when I walked the Larapinta Trail,

And went to “Cuspers” for the first time,

And found a thickening in my left breast…

This is my story.

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