Health and hope for Kendall thanks to the PA

14 Sep 2023
- Kendall Lette
...all the staff at the PA are incredible

Breast cancer took a lot from Kendall Lette, but thanks to her care team at the PA Hospital, she is now looking toward a brighter future.

Diagnosed at 31 with Stage 2a hormone positive (HER2 negative) breast cancer, she would lose her hair, undergo a mastectomy, and have to put her career as a teacher on hold while she underwent treatment. Perhaps most importantly for Kendall, the cancer even threatened her chances of becoming a mum as chemotherapy can affect fertility.

Fit and healthy, Kendall found a lump during a self-examination in the shower and met with her GP, an ultrasound and biopsy followed which confirmed her worst fear, she had breast cancer.

Kendall then had to have some of the hardest conversations in her life, telling her family, and her partner Tom, that she too was now among the more than 20,000 women a year diagnosed with breast cancer. The anxiety of the news was heightened for the couple as both had lost an aunt as a result of a breast cancer diagnosis.

“The hardest thing was telling my partner. Because initially he was like, ‘oh, you’ll be fine, it's just a lump you'll be good. I don't think he was expecting it,” Kendall said.

“Being that I was fit and well we were both just in shock, I’ve looked after myself, I’d never done drugs and didn't drink a lot either. We had to then have the conversation around fertility and children, we'd only been together for a year and half.

“We had to make these decisions that we thought we still had time to think about, the type of decision that we both thought would just come organically.”

Thankfully for Kendall and Tom, they were able to go through one round of the IVF process prior to Kendall’s treatment, and they now have 11 embryos that they can use should they want to start the journey to becoming parents.

“I was diagnosed in November 2021, then two weeks later I met my surgeon Dr Simone Geere at the PA, she is just an absolutely amazing woman,” Kendall said.

“She just really broke it down for me. I was still in shock, but she took the time to explain it to me in layman’s terms and not doctor’s jargon. She would sit and draw what was going on and explain it to me, which was really helpful because I’m a visual learner.”

Kendall would undergo two surgeries at the PA, followed by multiple rounds of grueling chemotherapy before finishing her treatment with hormone therapy and her decision to get a mastectomy. A choice she made to give herself more reassurance of the cancer not returning and to save herself from the severities of radiation treatment.

“AC chemotherapy, the red devil stuff. That was horrific. I had four rounds of that,” she said.

“That's hardcore stuff. I felt quite sick on that, I didn't vomit, but I was very nauseous and always very tired, and nothing tasted nice anymore. You just felt like your whole body just lost its energy. I went from being a very active 31-year-old to just bedridden.

“I had four rounds of the AC and 10 rounds of another chemotherapy called Taxol before starting hormone therapy, I only got to 10 rounds of the other chemo because I started getting neuropathy in my toes.

“I made the decision to have a mastectomy, over radiation. It was tough to come to that decision. I had heard stories about radiation, and I just know the type of person I am, that down the track, I would be forever thinking, oh, is there a lump? I knew I'd just fixate on that.

“It was probably more for peace of mind, knowing that I have no breast tissue left, it was the right decision for me, because if in five years, if it was to come back, I’d know I did everything I could to remove the risk.”

Though she remains on hormone therapy which acts to minimize the potential for the cancer to return, Kendall has returned to full health and to her career as a teacher thanks to the PA. She remains eternally grateful for the care of Dr Geere and everyone at the hospital.

“Everything’s been done at the PA which is great because consistency and familiarity is so helpful and important when you are trying to navigate cancer treatment. I also had my mastectomy completion in March, and then I had a reconstruction there as well.

“Dr Geere has been such an advocate for me, I trust her with my life basically, and my McGrath nurse at PA, Melissa, I absolutely love her to bits, but all the staff at the PA are incredible.”