For the past seven years families and friends in Greater Shepparton have hit the ground running on Mother’s Day morning to raise funds for breast cancer research.
Despite COVID-19 cancelling events across the nation, Sunday’s Mother’s Day Classic has gone virtual, with organisers encouraging people to continue the tradition by registering and sharing their results and photos online.
News journalist Morgan Dyer spoke to two inspiring Shepparton women about why they will be wearing pink active wear to honour those impacted by the disease that kills more than 3000 Australians each year.
Shepparton’s Kylie Jones, 45, has been diagnosed with breast cancer three times.
Not once, not twice — three times.
But remarkably the mother-of-two has survived every diagnosis and has come back better than ever — competing in several marathons and triathlons.
Kylie was first diagnosed in 2007 — a shocking revelation, given she had no family history of breast cancer and was only 32.
“It’s really not something you can prepare for,” Kylie said.
Her twin sons Kieran and Tyler were only three years old when she had a lumpectomy and underwent six weeks of radiotherapy.
“I had caught it early, so I didn’t have to go through chemotherapy, which is very fortunate,” Kylie said.
Almost five years later, in 2012, she was diagnosed with breast cancer a second time, just before she was to get the all-clear.
“I was being treated at Peter Mac in Melbourne and given it was my second diagnosis they recommended I have a mastectomy,” Kylie said.
“I decided to have a double mastectomy, which is a massive, nearly eight-hour operation.”
Initially the surgery went well, but Kylie was rushed back to hospital just days after being discharged.
“I was back in hospital because I had complications and I was put on to medication,” Kylie said.
“But I had an allergic reaction to the antibiotics and nearly ended up in the hospital’s intensive care unit.”
However, Kylie managed to pull through and began her recovery.
“It would have taken more than eight weeks just to get back on my feet,” Kylie said.
“It’s not only the physical recovery but it was really mentally difficult because I couldn’t do the things I loved.
“I’m very active and am into triathlons.”
Eight weeks after being discharged Kylie started running again.
“As soon as I could start exercising again my healing certainly improved,” she said.
But it wasn’t that simple — after her second operation Kylie was put on daily hormone injections and tablets, which made her go into medically induced menopause.
“It was a really challenging two years; I was just 37 and having hot flushes,” Kylie said.
But the mental and physical pain was all worth it because this would leave Kylie with only a slim chance of ever having cancer again.
And Kylie made more than a recovery. Just four months later she pushed her body to the limit and competed in a half-ironman and has since completed a number of marathons and ironman challenges.
“I’m a real believer of not letting anything get in the way of achieving your goals despite your journey,” Kylie said.
In April 2018 — 11 years after her first diagnosis — she was finally cancer-free.
“It was really exciting, I had been a cancer patient for more than a decade,” Kylie said.
But the joy was short-lived.
A month later Kylie was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer for the third time.
“I had less than a three per cent chance of getting cancer again,” she said.
“So, I had another lumpectomy, radiotherapy and was put back on medication.”
Which was followed by monthly injections — until Kylie decided she no longer wanted them and made the difficult decision to have her ovaries removed.
“I had them out to reduce the oestrogen production in my body, as that’s what my type of cancers grow on,” Kylie said.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to make because it comes with a whole lot of risk, like developing osteoporosis.
“But despite my journey I’ve really tried to not let it stop me from doing what I want and achieving what I want.
“I’ve had my low times, but I live my life with a ‘cup half full’ attitude,” she said.
Kylie said her love of keeping fit and contributing to finding a cure for breast cancer were two things she was passionate about, which was why the Mother’s Day Classic was close to her heart.
“This year my boys and I will go for a run around Victoria Park Lake,” Kylie said.
“I have quite a few different pink clothes, so I will definitely be wearing something bright.
“I guess the biggest thing is to know yourself and be self-aware.
“If something doesn’t seem right or if something is abnormal, get it checked.
“You need to trust your gut because every single time I knew that something was wrong.”
People wanting to participate in the ‘virtual’ run can register at www.mothersdayclassic.com.au
More local news