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Beth's Brave Story

Beth’s Brave Breast Cancer Battle

When Beth was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, she didn’t want her kids to worry. Thanks to research, Beth is still enjoying life with her family.

Beth Stafanidis   ABCR Mother's Day appeal

""I'm hopeful that more research will make breast cancer treatments even safer so that people like me can thrive as well as survive.""

Beth, a beloved wife and mother, was diagnosed with stage II invasive ductal carcinoma and needed an emergency mastectomy the week before Mother’s Day in 2015.

“It was traumatic for all of us. But more than anything, I just didn’t want my kids to worry,” said Beth.

Sadly, with around 18,000 Australians diagnosed with breast cancer in the past year alone, urgent research to help improve their lives and outcomes is vital.

That is why Dr Ashley Hopkins, breast cancer researcher at Flinders University, and his team, are working hard to determine the most effective treatment options by analysing the impact commonly used medications can have on breast cancer therapies.

With breast cancer now the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia, it can also be an incredibly challenging time as we are reminded of the battle so many of our loved ones face.

Despite keeping up with all her routine mammograms, when Beth felt a lump in her left breast after days of bruising pain, she knew she had to see a doctor right away.

Beth was sent for an immediate scan which confirmed her worst fears – there were five large lumps in her breast.

Before they could determine the best treatment plan, they needed to find out if the cancer had spread.

Beth and Paul Stefanidis – Mother’s Day appeal

“I’ll never forget the look on my doctor’s face when he told me. He was as white as a sheet. Waiting for those test results were the worst 48 hours of my life. My husband, Paul was beside himself,” Beth said.

Thankfully the cancer hadn’t spread, and three days later, Beth was rushed into surgery.

Beth’s mastectomy went well and she was released from hospital on Mother’s Day which she spent with Paul, her mum Maria and her two sons Stefanos and Michael, who were 20 and 18 years old.

Sixteen grueling rounds of chemotherapy and 26 days of radiotherapy followed, with Paul, Maria, Stefanos and Michael supporting her every step of the way.

Now six years on, Beth’s health is still closely monitored by her doctors and takes daily medication, but she’s doing well and enjoying life with her family on their produce farm.

Across the country right now, so many of our mothers, wives, grandmothers, children, family and friends are going through surgeries, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and other tough treatments.

Around 1 in 8 Australian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the age of 80, with more than 3000 sadly losing their fight each year.

Our world-leading research will provide key insights and inform on the best medicine combinations to use in breast cancer treatment.

Up to 60% of breast cancer patients use blood pressure or cholesterol lowering medications, but there is little evidence informing how these drugs interact with cancer treatments.

These common medications may affect chemoresistance, chemotherapy induced toxicities and gut bacteria health. But we don’t yet know whether this has a positive, negative or neutral impact on breast cancer therapies and their side effects.

Beth is the definition of a fighter. She exudes resilience, humility and determination, always keeping her sense of humour and optimism for the future.

“You’ve got to keep a positive mental attitude. I’m just trying to live the best life I can and not dwell on what might be,” says Beth.

Grateful for the researchers and clinicians that saved her life, and saved her sons from the heartache of losing their mum, Beth is hopeful that more research will make treatments even safer so that people like her can thrive as well as survive.

Only together, and with your support, can we continue fighting to improve breast cancer treatments and save more lives from this heartbreaking disease.