How I beat cancer: Brave mum tells her story

HAPPY AT HOME: Alex McKay with her family Rhys and Indiana, 11 months.
HAPPY AT HOME: Alex McKay with her family Rhys and Indiana, 11 months. John McCutcheon

ALEX McKay may have wanted to turn her back on doctors after three told her the lump in her breast was nothing when it was an aggressive cancer.

But when she was told chemotherapy was the best course of action to take, she didn't hesitate.

Now, nearly a year after Alex was diagnosed, the aggressive tumour has "shrunk to nothing".

And the Coolum mother only has high praise for chemotherapy and traditional medicinal treatments.

"It was the worst six months ever (going through chemotherapy), but it goes to show it does work," Alex said.

"I'm a big believer in modern medicine. A lot of people told me to go for the natural alternative, but my thoughts were a doctor studies for seven years, I'm going to do what they think works."

She said a lot of people had misconceptions about chemotherapy and "each to their own".

"My cancer was so aggressive, if didn't act I would have had bad prognosis. Prior to the cancer, I was fit, healthy and eating really clean anyway."

She admits chemotherapy was hell.

"It's worse than anything I've ever been through, including child birth. I was so sick," she said.

Her treatment regime also isn't over as she is going through radiation and is still taking medication to prevent the chance of the tumour growing back.

"My cancer has a habit of coming back so I am on Herceptin (a targeted therapy for metastatic cancer) until September," she said.

But her health outlook is positive with doctors advising the chances of the aggressive tumour growing back were "small".

She has, however, faced another trial which said was worse than cancer.

It has been watching her little daughter, Indie, who is nearly one suffer through febrile convulsions.

"Whenever she has a fever, she gets seizures," Alex said.

"A week after my surgery, she had a 75-minute seizure. I thought she dying.

"Then she had another one three weeks later on my birthday.

"They have put her on anti-convulsion medication.

"To see her so helpless is awful. I've been really lucky as the hospital has been really good.

"A lot of people say bad things about public hospitals, but I think they are wonderful."

Thankfully the prognosis for febrile convulsions in young children is good, with most children growing out of them by age six.

While Alex has been through the "worst of year of my life", she said a lot of good had come out of her experience,

For a start, she has gained a "second mother" in Nola Wilson, the mother of pro-surfer Julian Wilson.

When Nola read Alex's story in the Sunshine Coast Daily, she offered to help and the two have forged a close friendship.

"She's been like a second mum to me," Alex said.

"My mum has a disability and is in a wheelchair and lives on the Gold Coast so she couldn't always come up.

"Julian has also been a great support to my husband, they both surf.

"I don't think I could have pushed through without Nola. She has also had breast cancer and we are both similar personality wise.

"My friends and family have also rallied around. I can go down quickly and I need to have them around."

Through the "crappy situation of having cancer" Alex had made a lot of friendships and "gained more of a perspective on life".

"I look at things differently. I take more time out to appreciate things."

Topics:  cancer chemotherapy editors picks general-seniors-news julian wilson medical

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