World Cancer Day: Support is critical during tough times

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Ali Monaghan at one of her favourite places in Penrith, the Nepean River, which helped her feel calm during her battle with cancer. Photo: Melinda Jane

At 27-years-old, Ali Monaghan went for a routine ultrasound to confirm her theory that she had a cyst in her right breast.

Three days later, she had started treatment for breast cancer.

In recognition of World Cancer Day tomorrow (Saturday, February 4), Ms Monaghan, now 30, said the support she received was what helped her the most through her cancer battle.

Through the trauma of cancer, having support networks and someone to reach out to can make a world of difference.

“It was hard to see the light at the other side, but it was definitely my friends and family who got me through it,” Ms Monaghan said.

She recalls at times feeling lost as she was forced to resign from her job and remembered waking up on the morning of a chemotherapy treatment and crying for hours straight.

“I stopped wanting to do anything… I actually started becoming really anxious after that point, and I had never really been an anxious person before,” she said.

However, as she was undergoing treatment, the Penrith and Blue Mountains community came together to support her.

“We actually have a family friend that owned a restaurant in Penrith and they held a fundraiser for me… 60 people came and they raised $6,000 for me,” Ms Monaghan said.

She said the money gave her “freedom” and seeing both people she knew and didn’t know at the fundraiser encouraged her to reach out to others.

“My friends and my family just really banded together, and my boyfriend. He was just such an amazing support,” Ms Monaghan said.

This year’s motto for World Cancer Day is ‘I can. We can.’ and highlights how everyone can help to reduce the burden of cancer.

The biggest help to keep Ms Monaghan positive was the support given to her from her peers, and feeling at one with the beautiful landscape of the Penrith region.

“Everyone listened which I think was the best. Everyone was just there for me, the whole time,” she said.

“I understand that you may feel that you want to give up, because I’ve been there and you can’t even fathom the other side.

“Keep going and have hope and faith that you will get through it.”

Ms Monaghan is now in remission, and appears to have won her battle.

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