Victoria’s doctors agree that she shouldn’t be here.
Having survived two primary cancers, 20 months of weekly chemotherapy, radiotherapy and 15 surgeries, the 65-year-old from Alexandra Hedland is determined not to waste the gift she’s been given.
“I was told I’d be unlikely to survive chemotherapy,” said Victoria. “When I came out the other side, I made the decision to take care of myself and take care of others. That’s why I’m here.”
With Centacare by her side, Victoria has honoured her promise. Despite ongoing treatment and operations, the most recent surgery being two weeks ago, she walks and swims every day, serves her community and enjoys the things she loves from her apartment on the coast.
“Centacare has walked alongside me through it all,” said Victoria. “For 10 years they’ve been there giving me the back-up that I’ve needed, when and where I’ve needed it. I’m an orphan and have been widowed for 22 years so I don’t have a lot of family. I couldn’t have done this without them.
“When Emily, my Service Delivery Manager*, came onboard she rang me and said, ‘Victoria, I’m here to help you’. She took the time to understand what was important to me and supports me in ways that allows me to continue doing the things I love. She cares for me in the way that a family would.”
Victoria described herself has fit and healthy when, at age 55, her local GP felt a lump during a routine breast check. The lump was a grade 3 HER2-positive tumour, a very aggressive cancer. She was sent home to pack her bag. The following day she had a double mastectomy.
“The diagnosis shocked me,” she said. “I told my oncologist it was a mistake, that I was full of energy and in optimum health. He looked at me and said ‘Vicky, they don’t call breast cancer a silent killer for nothing’.”
Victoria is passionate about using her miraculous life to help others. She has a degree in disability studies and has served as a lay magistrate with the Department of Justice for 40 years. She uses her personal experience with cancer to help raise vital funds and community awareness as an ambassador for the Cancer Council.
Victoria first accessed Centacare’s support at home services with funding through the Queensland Community Support Scheme. Now that she is 65, her services are funded through a Home Care Package.
“We have worked with Victoria for many years and know how passionate she is about keeping herself as well as possible,” said Emily. “We are in awe of her courage and how hard she works in the community. Caring for Victoria means looking after the more difficult jobs around her home like changing the bed sheets, vacuuming scrubbing the bathroom.
“We see our role as stepping in where and when she needs it so she can keep living in her home and community with strength and confidence for many years to come.”
*Emily is now an operations manager
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