On a high, to raise funds -- Cancer survivor tells her story of survival and hope
By NEELIMA CHOAHAN
WHEN 33-year-old Nichola Cory was diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago, it was the thought of walking on Kingscliff Beach that kept the English resident focused on getting better.
"For people it is family, and for some it is kids," Ms Cory said.
"My dream was to get back to Australia and walk on Kingscliff Beach."
It was back in September 2005 when Ms Cory, who was in Australia on a de facto visa with her then-partner, started to notice something was wrong.
"There was a bleeding discharge from my nipples," she said.
"I went to the GP and he said we have to have a mammogram to rule out breast cancer. I was completely stunned."
Yet, a series of tests failed to reveal anything. The doctors suggested a microductectomy, a small operation to remove parts of the milk ducts, to stop the nipples from bleeding.
However, it was only in March 2006 when she visited a relative battling with tongue cancer that Ms Cory decided to go ahead with the surgery.
Two days later, at just 32, Ms Corey was told she had breast cancer.
"It was a scary time," she said.
Having just broken up with her partner, Ms Cory had been planning a trip home to England to obtain an Australian student visa. "I was alone and this bombshell came, I had to put my plans on hold."
She returned to England for the mastectomy of her left breast.
"It is hard when you are coping with a break-up and someone says you are going to lose your breast," she said.
"You think no-one will find you attractive again."
Breast reconstruction was followed by three weeks of radiotherapy. Now in remission, she has been given a 96 per cent chance of survival over the next five years.
At the start of this year, Ms Cory moved back to Australia to pursue a diploma in remedial massage at Kingscliff TAFE. She is also in a new relationship.
But it was only the support of her friends in Kingscliff and her English surgeon Dr Colm Hennessey that gave her the motivation to keep%going, she said.
"When I had a really crappy day and I couldn't get out of bed, I knew I would be happy if I could get back here."
Ms Cory, who is doing a sponsored tandem skydive over Byron Bay on October 10 to raise funds for the National Breast Cancer Foundation, said she was determined to live life to the fullest.
"I am scared of heights but I wanted to do something that would challenge me and get the adrenalin pumping," she said.
"You've got to live life every day, don't put things off, you don't know what's around the corner."
Ms Cory encouraged other breast cancer patients or survivors to get in touch for support or information. To donate, email Ms Cory at firstname.lastname@example.org