Jo’s hope for future generations – we get smarter, more effective and more successful in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment

23 July 2020

Jo was diagnosed with Grade 2, Stage 2 hormone receptor-positive, and HER2 positive invasive ductal breast cancer. She shares her thoughts about her breast cancer journey and being part of the POSNOC  trial;

How old were you when you were first diagnosed with breast cancer and what went through your mind? 

I was diagnosed just one week before my 54th birthday. My mum was diagnosed with her breast cancer on my 40th birthday and that always upset her, so I was firstly sad that I was going to have to tell her I now had cancer too, right around my birthday again. Timing wise I was not impressed at all.

Other than that, I was not surprised strangely; it all was a bit surreal. I have had some pretty crazy things happen in my life so I on one level just thought here we go, what’s this ride going to be like.

Do you have a family history of breast cancer?

It turns out my family has had four generations we know for certain that have had breast cancer on both sides of my mum’s family. Weirdly all of the instances of cancer in the women in my family has been different, so no genetic link specifically. 

But given my uncle and father both died of bowel cancer and my remaining uncle is a bowel cancer survivor I was ok with getting breast cancer, as that to my way of thinking was an easier cancer to deal with. Mammograms had always been easier to do, and way less drama than colonoscopies, was my logic. 

Why did you participate in a clinical trial?

I have four nieces, and they have had both their aunts and grandmothers and great grandmothers on both sides of their family get breast cancer. How could I not participate in something that could help them?

I also have been lucky to have had positive experiences with other medical events in my life where I both contributed to and benefited from research by my medical team at that time. It just made sense to say yes.

Why is breast cancer research so important to you?

When you get cancer you suddenly discover so many women around you have been where you are about to go. Sadly you also find yourself discovering more are following. My treatment and experience was all the more successful because of the research done by and assisted by other women in my situation. So every bit you can do helps. Collectively it can be a pretty powerful thing. I like that being part of something bigger aspect.

What was it like being on the trial?

Comforting. Knowing I would get that extra bit of attention. 

Satisfying. Knowing my experience and data is adding to a body of research that will ultimately benefit others.

Reassuring. By participating in the POSNOC trial gets the numbers it needs to make a difference quicker. 

What is your hope for future generations?

That we get smarter, more effective and more successful in all aspects of breast cancer identification and treatment.