Breast cancer survivor Marguerite Burns warns women not to be complacent

"I've never been more happy to be 'unremarkable' in my life."

That was the sentiment of Parkes breast cancer survivor Marguerite Burns when she was given the all clear after her latest test results came back 'unremarkable'.

Marguerite (or Margie) was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer almost one year ago to the day.

She was 48-years-old.

Now she will be closely monitored by her oncology team for the next five years and take medication for the next 10.

Margie is happy to share her story this Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the hope it prompts other women to do regular self examinations and have regular screening.

"I was really negligent in checking myself, there is no history of breast cancer in my family," she said.

Margie found a lump in her right breast in October last year.

"It was quite a large tumor - 7.5cm - and there was a smaller one behind it," she said.

"I had a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy, and within three days I was in Sydney seeing a breast surgeon.

"I was very fortunate things moved fast for me and I was operated on the next week."

The surgeon told Margie that due to the size of the tumor and the type of cancer she would have to have chemotherapy followed by radiation therapy.

"I started chemo in December," she said.

"He prescribed a very aggressive form of chemotherapy, one he doesn't prescribe very often.

"It was like packing six months worth of chemo into three months and doing it in four rounds.

"The surgeon said due to my age and fitness level he knew that I could handle it - all I heard was that I only had to do it for three months.

"It was quite an assault on my body."

After chemotherapy Margie had six weeks of radiation therapy and then started medication.

"Because my cancer was hormone driven they needed to shut my body down from producing hormones which launched me straight into menopause," she said.

"My oncologist changed the medication four times because the side effects were so severe. At one point I couldn't even walk because of the joint pain.

"Now I am on a medication that isn't exactly designed for my type of cancer but he is going to keep me on it for 12 months and then switch me back to one of the first ones they tried in the beginning in the hope that the side effects will have eased."

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Margie said it's great to see Parkes get behind the McGrath Foundation's annual Pink Up Your Town fundraiser for Breast Care Nurse.

"We are so fortunate to have our own breast care nurse, Di Green," she said.

"When I was diagnosed I didn't know what to do or where to go. I rang Di straight away and she was marvelous.

"She was able to navigate the whole journey for me. I would not have been able to get through it without her. She has laughed with me and cried with me and has always been there for me."

Margie said her journey has been very confronting for her three children, Grace (23) Billy (20) and Daisy (17).

"They have been really scared, even though they are grown up it's been really hard for them," she said.

"Grace and Billy live away so it was particularly hard on Daisy, she was here with me throughout the whole thing."

After her diagnosis Margie's sister Gemma moved in for three months.

"That was really good, that meant that as low as I was some days - and there were some very low days - Gemma kept the whole house running along smoothly which normalised it for Daisy," she said.

"I really feel for people who don't have the support of family and friends - it's so important."

Margie said cancer affects families in so many different ways and the ripple effect extends to your whole network of family, friends and work.

"I had nine-and-a-half months off work. I ran out of leave so I had to go on leave without pay," she said.

"It hits you not just physically and emotionally but financially as well."

Margie said she still gets very tired and is slowly getting back on track.

"I told my oncology team I just want my old life back, I just want to be like I was. I was running six kilometres a day, I was fit and healthy," she said.

"They said 'you can get aspects of that, but your life is never going to be like it was - this is your new life now'."