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Trusting Your Instincts: Resilience during Breast Cancer Awareness Month


Hearing the words "You have stage 3 cancer" is something none of us ever want to experience. For Val Guyatt, our Business Development Sales Manager, those words became her reality after discovering a lump on her breast. In this Breast Cancer Awareness month, Val shares her journey of resilience, along with another inspiring survivor, Performance Analyst Maree Peterson. Their stories remind us of the importance of trusting our instincts and taking action when it comes to our health.

Upon discovering the lump in her breast in January last year, Val wasted no time. She visited her GP, who promptly referred her to a specialist. Within days, Val underwent a mammogram and biopsy, followed by immediate surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Her journey was daunting, but Val's determination and the support of the public health system led her to incredible news – she is now cancer-free.

Val encourages everyone to trust their instincts and listen to their bodies. If something doesn't feel right, don't delay – see a doctor. She emphasises the importance of regular health checks and mammograms for both men and women. Val knows first-hand the difficulty of having that conversation with loved ones, and she urges us all to take proactive steps to prioritise our health.

Maree Peterson's health scare came in a different form. Last December, she got something in her right eye that wouldn't come out. Concerned, she sought medical attention. To her shock, tests revealed she had no vision in her left eye. Maree wasted no time and visited an optometrist, who referred her to Greenlane Hospital for further evaluation.

After five hours of tests, Maree received a diagnosis that would change her life – a meningioma, a non-malignant brain tumour that was slowly affecting her optic nerve. While she had been experiencing symptoms for some time, she initially attributed them to other factors, including fatigue and the aftermath of a recent COVID-19 infection. Maree's quick action allowed doctors to save as much of her eyesight as possible and prevent further damage from the tumour.

Val and Maree's stories serve as powerful reminders of the importance of taking our health seriously. They inspire us to trust our instincts and promptly seek medical attention when something doesn't feel right. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, with 3,500 Kiwis diagnosed with breast cancer every year, and more than 650 losing their lives. Val and Maree encourage us all to prioritise our health and well-being, not just in October but throughout the year.

Val and Maree's resilience and determination are truly inspirational. Their experiences underscore the vital message of trusting your instincts when it comes to your health. Whether it's recognising warning signs, seeking prompt medical attention, or prioritising regular check-ups, their stories remind us that our health is precious. As we observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month, let's honour their courage by taking proactive steps to care for ourselves and our loved ones.