Kym and Cody Curtis
It took 15 years for Kym and Ash Curtis to fall pregnant with their son Cody, and seconds to realise life was about to change dramatically. It was September 1, 2017, when Kym found a lump in her breast. The wedding anniversary celebration and Father’s Day visit to Werribee Zoo the next day were immediately postponed. Doctors’ visits were organised, including an ultrasound and mammogram, and a pneumonia diagnosis was given. Kym’s white blood count was high, her mobile phone was ringing off the charts and her little boy’s face as she waved him goodbye each time she went to an appointment became indelibly etched in her brain.
Kym was admitted to the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre just seven days after her breast lump discovery. The Tootgarook resident explains: “Everything moved so fast, so we knew it was serious. The diagnosis was stage three cancer. The end of 2017 was huge. I couldn’t believe it when I became pregnant in 2014. I had only just come to terms with the fact that we would never have a child and had actually said it out loud. I remember going into the doctor’s office after feeling rotten for a while. I really thought I was perimenopausal, but the doctor just said, ‘Be quiet and go pee on a stick’. He had a tear rolling down his cheek when he told me I was pregnant. I was 42 years old. We found out that Cody has high-functioning autism when he was 18 months old. It took so long to have him, I wasn’t about to let cancer take me away from him, so I went into fighting mode when I received my diagnosis. Luckily, I’ve always had a positive attitude towards life. I’ve been told that I even smile in my sleep.”
Kym continues: “It was hard for Cody seeing me go through chemotherapy and radiation and all the operations. He didn’t know what was going on. Chemo was particularly difficult because everything hurts afterwards. Drying yourself with a towel, your clothes, even the sheets hurt, and I couldn’t cuddle him as much. His toilet training went backwards, and he became extremely emotional. I don’t know what I would have done without my husband Ash. He took a whole year off work to look after me and Cody. He’s been my rock. I still can’t quite believe I got cancer, you know?”
Yes. The whole experience sounds completely surreal. Kym’s good at the moment now her treatment has finished, and appointments with her oncologist have been reduced to every three months. She was at Peter Mac’s four out of five days a week there for a while and couldn’t have done it without the help of the Southern Peninsula Cancer Transport Group drivers who drove her to and from appointments. There was a bout of depression once the roller coaster of treatment stopped, but now she’s focused on raising awareness for other people affected by breast cancer. That involves pink hair, pink nails, hot pink number plates, ‘check your boobs’ Facebook updates, popping breast cancer awareness stickers on her car and participating in the Mother’s Day Classic. She has also learnt not to sweat the small stuff.
Kym concludes: “Breast cancer has taught me to only control the controllable, and life is short. I never realised just how strong I was until I’ve had to fight this thing. I’ve also learnt that my family is the core of my being and Cody came just at the right time. I don’t know if I would have fought so hard if I didn’t have him. Every minute of the 27 hours of labour was worth it.”