Meet Emily Chinn

17 Jan 2018

Emily Chinn attended her first Women in Super Mother’s Day Classic in 2013. It was a chance for her and her mum to walk in memory of Emily’s grandmother, who died at just 52, another victim of breast cancer. What Ms Chinn could never know was that just two years later she would be battling breast cancer.

There are certain things that you can expect to happen in life, and as such plan for them, however sitting in a doctor’s office at the age of 25 as you are diagnosed with breast cancer is not one of them. That nightmarish scenario was Ms Chinn’s reality. After noticing a discharge from her breast and increasing pain, she went to the doctors and was given an ultrasound, which came back clear.

She experienced the same symptoms over the next couple of months and decided to go back to her doctor. This time the ultrasound and mammogram results were a cause for concern, and the doctor ordered a same day biopsy of the breast and armpit. The result was stage two breast cancer; it was April 21, 2016, Ms Chinn was just 26-years-old.

“I was in absolute shock. I remember leaving the doctor’s office and holding onto my Mum in the street, after a long time we both looked at each other, not quite sure what to do next. It took a while for the feelings to catch up. When I woke up the next morning, and it wasn’t a dream I started to feel very frightened,” she said.

After dealing with her diagnoses, Ms Chinn faced the tough task of sharing her devastating news with the rest of her family and friends.

“I’m so glad Mum was with me when I got the news, so I didn’t have to tell her. Fortunately the shock of finding out somehow immunised me. I was able to console my family and stay calm and optimistic while they fell apart. Then once they had a few days to wrap their heads around it, they were able to support me when I fell apart too,” she said.

Ms Chinn has found each stage of treatment has presented its challenges. Initially, she underwent fertility treatment after being told the chemotherapy would age her reproductive system, which would make conceiving naturally after treatment unlikely.

“I undertook IVF and had my eggs frozen. Chemotherapy brought a lot of stress and anxiety over losing my hair, my eyebrows and my eyelashes. The treatment caused me to gain weight. Some of this was a direct result of medication side effects, but it was mostly due to an inactive lifestyle from fatigue and also comfort eating during a stressful period,” she said. “This lead to crippling issues of body image, depression and low self-esteem (something which I believe isn’t talked about enough). Dealing with this and fighting for your life at the same time was awful, and it’s still something I’m working on all day every day.”

A mastectomy followed the chemo and then six weeks of radiation.

“Now that radiation has finished I have Herceptin treatment every three weeks to prevent the cancer from spreading. I have another surgery at the end of this year to remove my right breast and put in permanent implants. I have some fear around this surgery as well, but ultimately I am looking forward to finalising this stage and moving forward with my life. I still feel fearful every day of reoccurrence,” she said.

Part of what makes the Mother’s Day Classic so special is that going through breast cancer treatment can create a sense of loneliness. At the MDC you’re surrounded by people who have been through the same thing you have.

“I think it will. Last year when I attended it made me quite sad because I was still feeling very vulnerable and had trouble talking about Breast Cancer, to be fair it had only been a few weeks between diagnoses and Mother’s Day. I am really looking forward to this year’s event,” she said.