‘I was diagnosed with MS and stage 3 breast cancer, but walking keeps me positive’

By | June 2, 2021

The last few years haven’t been easy for Tracey Lane. She received not one but two life-changing diagnoses but while enduring 24/7 pain and discomfort, walking has helped her stay positive.  

It was 2017 when Tracey Lane noticed her right breast had swelled to nearly double its size in a matter of weeks. She knew something was wrong. Not only was it enlarged, but it was rock solid, felt hot to the touch, and had “dimpling like an orange left in the sun too long”.

With no family history of breast cancer and no BRCA genes, her diagnosis of stage III inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) came as a shock. This kind of breast cancer is rare, accounting for one to five percent of all breast cancers, and it tends to occur in women under 40. IBC is treated with chemotherapy, surgery to remove the tumor, and radiation if needed.

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Lane completed treatments 11 months later in August of 2018 but continues to have six and 12-month checkups.

“It changed my life and view of life irrevocably,” she recalls. Two years later, Lane was still experiencing certain symptoms she thought were leftover from cancer treatment, but new ailments were occurring, too.

“Constant migraines, neck and jaw pain, spasms in my spine, clumsiness and unexplained falls,” she says. Lane’s oncologist Professor Fran Boyle organised a spine and brain MRI that suggested another life-altering diagnosis: multiple sclerosis; a potentially disabling disease where the body’s immune system attacks the brain and spinal cord. After multiple tests, MS was confirmed.

On top of her regular cancer screenings, Lane now must undergo monthly infusions of Tysabri, a drug designed to inhibit white blood cells from getting into the brain and spinal cord.

“Day-to-day it means that physically, mentally and emotionally I am a different person and have to manage all outcomes and symptoms from these two things,” says Lane.

“I have good days and bad days. You can’t underestimate the impact of 24/7 pain or discomfort, but I do what I can and take one day at a time. You have to stay positive.”

Walking, at least 10,000 steps every day, has provided Lane with a much-needed mental release.

It’s “quite meditative,” she says. “Even if I walk on a day when it is tough, afterward I feel the mental benefit.”

When her cancer treatment was completed in 2018, Lane completed the Real Insurance Sydney Harbour 10k, and since then she vowed to do it as often as she could.

“I love being among others, doing the walk, and knowing everyone there has a story and a challenge and yet we are all in it together, all with big smiles and lots of support,” she says. Most of all, Lane says it’s important to set a strong example for her daughter.

By completing the walk, Lane hopes to “show my daughter what it means to fight and as a result, hopefully be here to see her grow up.”

Entries are open now for the Real Insurance Sydney 10/5k, taking place on July 25.

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