Whetu Pickering was diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer, known as triple negative breast cancer.

She was 40 when she found a lump under her arm and went to get it checked out.  She didn’t believe she could have breast cancer and thought the lump might be related to treatment she’d just finished for Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).

But investigations revealed that it was breast cancer and Whetu then had a partial mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

“At that time, I wasn’t especially worried for myself, I was worried about how it was going to affect my family, especially my son.  He’d had two friends who had lost their mums to breast cancer so I knew he’d be scared I was going to die. He was my focus and I soldiered on for his sake.”

Whetu says she kept in a positive frame of mind throughout her cancer treatment in order to stay strong for her son and her family.

In return, she says her friends and family, including her son, husband, mother and sister, offered her a mountain of support which kept her going.  She continued to work full-time throughout her cancer treatment.

“I just tried to stay positive and act positive.  I didn’t want to dwell on the negative so I just carried on as normal and continued to work and do other things.  In the end, it was like I’d had the common ‘flu rather than cancer,” she laughs.

Whetu believes a positive attitude is extremely important as you go through breast cancer treatment. 

She says she also found BCAC’s Step by Step helpful in explaining the disease and different treatments.

Whetu did get genetic testing to find out whether she had the BRCA gene, but she came back clear which was a relief to her and her female relatives.  

She says, “I do sometimes worry about the breast cancer returning, but we just have to hope that it doesn’t come back”.