Cheryl Maltby never imagined pain in her stomach would lead to the shocking news she had breast cancer.
Cheryl had hardly ever been sick or taken much medication in her life and her last trip to a hospital was when her daughter Tracy was born 50 years ago. So, when she had acute pain in her stomach, she knew something was wrong, but never imagined it would be cancer.
“I had pain in my stomach, and I went to hospital, and it turned out it was an issue with my gall bladder, so they took out my gall bladder,” she said.
“When they took it out, they put a biopsy of it under the microscope and they found two breast cancer cells inside my gall bladder.
“I had to have all these tests done after that and they found a mass at the top of my breast. It was only picked up through an ultrasound.”
Making the diagnosis of lobular breast cancer even more alarming was the fact Cheryl had always been diligent in booking check-ups with her GP and in getting mammograms done.
“I always had my mammograms done every two years, never missed a beat, they were always clear,” she said.
“It was a big shock when they said I had breast cancer, there was no lumps involved, it was probably firm there, but I never took any notice of it. But it had spread through my body to my gall bladder through my estrogen.”
Cheryl was initially seen at Redlands Hospital before being referred to PA Hospital where her treatment has been under the care of Dr Katharine Cuff. Her cancer treatment has involved her taking a targeted hormone therapy via oral medication for three weeks before an appointment at the PA to go over the result of her latest blood tests each month with a member of her treatment team.
“At the moment they are saying my body has accepted the drug really well, my bloods have been really good, my last scan didn’t detect anything, but they did say the cancer can be tiny and minute and take a while to grow,” Cheryl said.
Cheryl Maltby and her daughter Tracy.
“We don’t know if it’s gone anywhere else, at the moment my last scan shows it hasn’t latched anywhere else, so far, it’s only shown up in my gall bladder.
“They did say with the drug the cancer can take a liking to it and it becomes resistant but so far so good.”
Since her diagnosis in December of 2021 Cheryl said she couldn’t fault the level of care she has received.
“I’ve been cared for really well here, from day one the PA has been great,” she said.
Her diagnosis inspired her daughter Tracy to take on PA Research Foundation’s Project Pink 100 squats a day Facebook challenge, where she raised close crucial funds for breast cancer research.
“I raised around $900 for breast cancer research. I also wanted to do it to promote breast cancer awareness. It is so important you don’t realise how many people are affected by breast cancer,” Tracy said.
“Even in mum’s case she has lobular breast cancer. Lobular cancer of the breast is sneaky and does not always show up on mammograms, it is not always easily detected, generally it is found through MRI’s and mammograms.”
With Cheryl having known known others in her community in Wynnum who have passed from breast cancer and Tracy knowing a friend who had to have a double mastectomy as a result of a breast cancer diagnosis, both mother and daughter agreed fundraising and continued efforts to raise awareness of breast cancer were vital.
“It didn’t dawn on me until the day I came to the hospital for treatment and walked into this room where everyone there was being treated for cancer. I never imagined the problem was so big,” Cheryl said.
“There was two ladies at the bowls club where my husband volunteers to run the bingo that got breast cancer and one got Covid and she passed away, so when I got Covid I was quite worried it would be the end of me as well.
“You see people fighting breast cancer and then you don’t see them anymore, it’s really sad.”
PA Foundation is your place to give to raise awareness of breast cancer and help fund lifesaving breast cancer research. You can donate to help breast cancer patients like Cheryl here.