WHEN Tracey Dunn was first diagnosed with breast cancer, she read everything she could get her hands on to find out more about the disease, how it might affect her, and what could be done to treat it.
But it was the support of the breast care nurses at the Calvary Mater who offered her the information, support, and invaluable comfort she needed prior, during, and after her treatment.
They were calm, soothing, they offered her advice, and answered all of her questions, she said.
"I had gone for a routine mammogram on the Friday, and when I got home on the Tuesday there was a letter waiting for me to say they wanted me to come back," she said. "You have got to know that it's not for your personality.
"It turned out that bingo! I was a 'lucky' winner."
Mrs Dunn said emotionally, she had found it difficult to break the news to her family.
"Physically, I had no hair, no eyebrows, no eyelashes. You've got that dead girl walking look because you get that ghastly skin colour," she said.
"I had so many side effects. It was just horrendous.
"Not only are you dealing with the idea that you might die, but you've actually got so many debilitating side effects and limitations to deal with as well. I was lucky if I was upright.
"But I'm still here."
Mrs Dunn shared her story at the 13th annual Breast Care Fundraiser Breakfast at Wests on Thursday morning, which raised $25,000 to provide education and training for the Hunter's specialist breast care nurses.
Since its inception, the event has now raised almost $260,000 for the cause.
Approximately 600 people are diagnosed with breast cancer in the Hunter each year.
It is estimated that one-in-seven Australian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 85.
About 53 people are diagnosed each day.
Mrs Dunn was joined on stage by her surgeon, Dr Stephen Cox, oncologist Dr Hiren Mandaliya, and breast cancer nurse, Helen Moore, to provide insight into the treatment process, care and support for breast cancer patients in the region.
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