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Teann’s Story

At just 33yrs old and 17 weeks pregnant with her 3rd child, Teann was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. Ahead would be a rollercoaster of treatment in both Tamworth (160km return) and Newcastle (600km return); made all the more complicated by her pregnancy which was actually fuelling her cancer growth.

At 20 weeks pregnant Teann would have her first surgery in Tamworth; a lumpectomy and axillary clearance. Then it would be 4 rounds of chemotherapy across 12 weeks; various pregnancy complications meant each and every round ended with an air ambulance flight to Newcastle. “I lived in constant fear that my baby wouldn’t make it and that it would be my fault”.

Given her young age, genetic testing was conducted and revealed that Teann was a carrier of the BRACA2 gene. “When my BRCA2 results came in; It still makes me cry. To think that because of me, my children may also have to endure what I have they each have a 50-50 chance of being carriers themselves. I was composed before that…”

At 31 weeks, Hartley, weighing just 1.8kg was delivered in Newcastle. He would spend the next 5 weeks in a neonatal intensive care unit; the first 4 in Newcastle and the next 1 in Tamworth.

Teann

With Hartley just 3 weeks old, Teann would commence a further 12 rounds of weekly chemotherapy. The side effects were so severe; her feet were red raw, and she couldn’t move her hands properly. With DCIS already forming in her left breast, chemotherapy was cut short after 9 rounds and surgery was again advised this time a double mastectomy.

Whilst surgery was successful Teann has radiotherapy and a hysterectomy ahead of her; dozens of trips and thousands of kilometres to come.

The financial havoc that cancer creates for a young family living rurally is enormous and extends well beyond the travel and accommodation out of pockets.

Teann’s other children: Haxley and Henley were just 3 years and 1 year old at the time of her diagnosis. Not only did Teann have to stop working, but so too did her husband and her parents who work as local cleaners and lost many days of work helping out .“It was very worrying at the time because I didn’t have anything (extra) behind us to get us through” Teann’s husband, Sean.

Teann called Can Assist mid way through her first chemotherapy treatment round “Chris came out to my house to meet with me …she made it so comfortable for me, there was no judgment. Most people have their pride; it’s difficult asking for help but I never once felt like I was getting a handout.” Teann.

“The difference Can Assist made was really huge – having some relief from our piling bills meant that there was one less thing for us to worry about, they really lightened the load for us when we needed it most” Teann.