Take ownership of your health, says Jess

Jess Hiuggins. PHOTO: Evoke Photography.“Cancer comes in all shapes and sizes it does not discriminate, you are never too young to get cancer.But when faced with your own mortality something changes.

UNITED: Jess Higgins, centre, with her family; husband Dale and children Logan and Skylah.

“You love a little harder, appreciate a littlemore and find that the human spirit is a miraculous tool.”

These are the words on Jess Higgins’ Facebook page Do it for the Girls. Battling a rare breast cancer, she is sharing her story for many reasons.

“I want women to become ‘per-cyst-ant sisters’,” Jess said.

“We need to take our health into our own hands and insist on getting a second or third opinion, even if we fit outside the ‘likely’ age or family history range of cancer.

“If people walk out of a doctor’s surgery and they’re not 100 per cent happy with what they’ve been told about a health problem, then insist on further testing.”

Jess Higgins is 31 years old. She has two childrenagedsix and five, and a loving husband.

In November 2015, Jess and Dale Higgins were married. They built their own home. Since 2014 Jess had been in and out of her doctor’s surgery concerned about a lump in her breast.

“I had a mammogram which came back inconclusive; a fibroid noma was what they called it, a cyst. My doctor said, ‘We’ll just keep our eye on that’,” Jess said.

“I was 28 when I first felt a lump.It did start to get sore. I started to feel it a little bit more. I went back to the doctor and had an ultrasound, which came back inconclusive, most likely a cyst.

“So I walked away thinking:It’s a cyst, it’s all in my imagination that it’s getting worse.

“Then I started to notice the lymph nodes under my arm were sore. I went back to the doctor and he basically said, even though your lymph nodes are up it’s most likely that your body is fighting an infection somewhere in your body.

“I left there thinking, right-o.

“About a year later a red dot started to develop, it looked like a little mozzie bite. About two months later the skin on my breast started to feel a bit different and look a bit different. It felt hot. A rash was spreading.

“Iwent back to the doctor and said, I’ve still got this lump, I’ve got this rash now and my lymph nodes are still sore.

“The doctor said we would do another ultrasound. It looked like an infection.This still came back inconclusive.This had been about two years since the mammogram.

“The doctor said we should try antibiotics and a cream [to treat the rash and infection]. That made no difference. We tried another round of antibiotics.

“By this stage I was getting really frustrated, thinking this was a really softly, softly approach. It had been going on for two years now.

“Eventually I pushed hard enough to get some answers. I insisted on a referral for an MRI [magnetic resonance imaging], a biopsy and a dermatologist.

“The doctor didn’t know what it was. He was trying to treat me and I kept saying could it be this or that, could it be breast cancer?

“He said, no you’re too young to get breast cancer. It’s just a cyst. You’ve had children. Your breasts naturally change.

“With all that in mind, I still insisted on getting answers.The rash had become irritable. It was changing my body.

“He said, go and do your MRI because maybe it’s an infection in your breast and this will show it up.

“I went and had the MRI. I knew straight away there was something wrong.

“The radiologist was nice and speaking to me normally. Then her voice changed and she would say, okay sweetie you’re doing really well. I thought it sounded different.

“She explained to me what the MRI does. They give you an injection of dye and watch how what ever is in you body absorbs it. Ifit absorbs fast it’s something sinister.

“I just knew. It was all happening my mind. I thought, it’s absorbed really quick and she’s talking to me differently now.

“My doctorgot the results, phoned me and asked if I was at home and on my own.

“Dale was at work. He said maybe Dale should be there.I said no, you need to tell me.

“He said, you have a stage zero breast cancer.I was shaking and overwhelmed. I didn’t know what that meant.

“He said stage zero meant it’s a non-invasive type of breast cancer and it would be removed fairly simply. All I heard was I had breast cancer.

“I askedabout therash? He said that had nothing to do with it.

“I rang mum and she came home from work straight away.

“It was a terrible night.I cried most of the night. Dale and my mum were by my side getting kids off to school. Iremember this was the first time I broke down. I screamed and cried into my pillow. Mybabies don’t deserve a life without a mother, how could this be happening to me?

“The next day the doctor phoned and said he did believe the rash had something to do with the cancer and was most likely inflammatory breast cancer.

“I said what’s the difference between that and what you told me I had yesterday?

“He said it’sstage three or four. It was more invasive, I would need more treatment andI’m so sorry, he said.

“Three or four days later I was in Newcastle at the breast and endocrine centre. They found two lumps.The cancerous rash, and the lymph nodes were all involved. We found a hotel for the night, I couldn’t stop thinking it was everywhere, it’s in my brain Ikept telling myself.

“The next week was terrible. My family cried so much but we banded together as we awaited the resultsof the tests.

“The specialist delivered some good news that the cancer hadn’t spread to my brain, the cancer wasconfined to the breast area.

“So that was a good day.

“I knew I was still up against it;I had been diagnosed with an aggressive and rare form of cancer known as inflammatory breast cancer (IBC).

“I saw an oncologist at Port Macquarie and was started on chemotherapy. Based on how that goes the next step will either be radiotherapy or surgery.

“At this stage, I’ve got tworounds to go (of six).

“I believe that if enough of the cancer has gone doctors will do a mastectomy next or, if not, it will be radiotherapy to shrink the cancer, then surgery.

“That’s the clinical story about where I’m at now.”

WHAT YOU CAN DO“I want women to understand that finding breast cancer is not just about finding a lump,” Jess said.

“Even if you’re young and your doctor says it’s a cyst. Even if you’ve had children which does change your breasts. Even if the chances are low that it could be something serious.

“It’s important people listen to their own intuition.

“If you walk out of a doctor’s surgery and you’re one hundred per cent confident in what they say, then that’s great. But if you walk out feeling uncertain, then you should follow that instinct.

“Who’sgoing to take better care of you, than you?”

LIFE CHANGING“It’s been hard. There are times when I’m notfunctioning well and I’m upset a lot,” Jess said.

“I think mentally it’s been extremely hard. Among all the side affects I’m having from chemo, mentally it’s been harder.

“Dale is coping in his own way.

“We’ve had to move out of our home. We’ve moved in with mum and dad. Dale is moving to Canberra for work.

“He works on the roads and moves around, that was our life. He was always going to move for work and come home at weekends and we would stay here. But now, I need care and so do the kids when I can’t care for them.

“Dale still needs to work. The bills have to be paid.

“We were lucky to have mum and dad here and they have a big enough house, it’s pretty full now.”

Jess’ mum Julie Gale has taken a year off from her job at Coles Laurieton, to care for her daughter and grandchildren.

“Some days are more difficult than others,” Jess said.

“Telling your fiveand fouryear old children that you have cancer is something a mother should never have to say. But Iwas open and honest and they handled it well.

“They did get upset when I explained what would happen to me, like, with my hair. My son said, ‘You’ll be a bro like me.’

“Skylah told me I wasn’t to shave my head. She said I had to wait until it all fell out. But I explained that I would have to shave it because it would fall out anyway. Eventually we shaved my head and she had a go and Logan had a go shaving it. Now she says she likes me with no hair and I look better!

“They don’t look at me like I’ve got cancer, they look at me like I’m their mum.

ACTION TIMEJess’ family and friends are organising a fundraising auction to help the Higgins familythrough treatment and beyond. The event will be held at the Kendall Services and Citizen’s Club on March 25 from 2pm.

The date follows her final round of chemotherapy.

Because Jess is under the age of 50, with no family history of breast cancer, much of the treatment she will undergo isn’t covered by Medicare.

“There will be a few treatments coming up where I have to travel, for the surgery and reconstruction. It’s likely my ovaries will be removed too because it’s an oestrogen-driven cancer. I will need hormone replacement therapy.

“There may be some clinical trial treatments because it [IBC]is a rare cancer.I’m trying to source the best treatments, what will save my life.

“At this point in life most 30-year-olds have an amount of debt whenyou’re starting your family life.You don’t expect to get cancer.

“I want the best treatment I can get. You only get one crack at beating this.

“I worry about other young women who are going to get cancer and aren’t able to pay for the best treatments, so they’re not going to have them.

“The MRI I insisted on having, which picked up the cancer, was something we had to pay for. It’s expensive. I worry about women who are going to choose not to have tests to diagnose rare cancers because they can’t afford it.

“They can’t afford to have cancer.”

Jess hopes to donate some of the funds raised on March 25 to a charity for women’s health.

“The event is about raising awareness in our community about this form of breast cancer and educating women about their health.

”There are lots of things we need to do as women to help ourselves. You know your body better than anyone and if you’re concerned about it…do something.

“I feel that it’s becoming more talked about, to make people aware of the various signs and symptoms of breast cancer. It could be dimply skin, an inverted nipple, a hot or heavy breast.

“There have been a few people I’ve spoken to since I was diagnosed, that had been misdiagnosed too. They thought they had mastitis because they had been breast feeding.

“IBC is always stage three or four, never an early stage breast cancer. It’s metastatic which means it spreads to other places in thebody.

“I guess I’m just really, really lucky I caught it just in time.”

Jess said the best way people can help is to come along and enjoy the fundraising auction.

“If any businesses would like to donate to the prizes for the event, that would be great. Or if not they can just come.

“Even if people can’t afford to bid on anything at the auction, just come and get together and have a good time.”

Jess has also started a GoFundMepage with a goal to raise $10,000. Just 14 days in, 100 people have donated and the dollar total is a staggering $15,430 and climbing.

FACTS ABOUT IBCEach year, around 1-2% of the 13,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer will be diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. (苏州美甲美睫培训canceraustralia.gov419论坛)

Signs of inflammatory breast cancer can develop quickly and may include:

the breast looks red or inflamed or develops a rash – it often looks as if it’s infected or bruisedthe breast becomes swollen and enlarged and may feel heavy or uncomfortablethe breast feels warm and tenderskin on the breast can appear dimpled or pitted, like an orange peel.Some people may also have a lump in their breast or armpit, pain in the breast or nipple, discharge from the nipple or a nipple that turns inwards (inverted nipple).

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Police slam drug-driving car crashes

DANGEROUS: Police are concerned about post-festival driving following crashes on Tuesday. This rollover in Miners Rest is being investigated. Picture: Lachlan Bence.Ballarat’s top cop is calling for major changes at the Rainbow Serpent Music and Arts Festival after a string of illegal activity including drug trafficking, assaults, two reported rapesand a fatality.

A 22-year-old Kensington man was unable to be revived after going into cardiac arrest on Saturday night.

Police drug tested drivers after the festival and recorded more than 30 positive tests as of 2pm Tuesday, equating to one positive driver every six tests.

One drink driver was also recorded.

Superintendent Andrew Allen said Victoria Police had increased its presence at the festival year-on-year in response to the nature and frequency of crime.

“Why is it that we’re expecting to see fatalities at Rainbow Serpent Festival? It’s because there is a huge amount of illicit drug taking going on,” Superintendent Allen said.

Police recorded six countsof combined drug trafficking and possession at theLexton event and also responded to an assault on a police officer.

Four people were evicted from the site over five days.

Superintendent Allen said police believed organised criminals were infiltrating the festival and “preying on vulnerable young people”.

“The community of Beaufort and the Pyrenees Shire have to evaluate whether this is causing harm to the community,”Superintendent Allen said.

“I know there is financial benefit…buthow long can we see this type of behavioursustained?”

Policewill conduct a festival debrief with the event’s organisers as well as representatives from the Pyrenees Shire.

Pyrenees Shire mayor Ron Eason said while he was concerned by the poor behaviour reported by Victoria Police he supported the festival’s continuation and welcomed emergency services’ feedback.

“If we provide a safe festival environment, which I currently believe we do, thenI stand by the festival,” Mr Eason said.

Superintendent Allen said policedid not want to see the festival shut down, but said “there has to be better planning and there has to be better ways of holding these types of events”.

Superintendent Allen declined to comment when asked if police would support adrug checking trial.

Rainbow Serpent organisers declined to comment.

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Weddin Whispers Bulletin

WEDDING BELLS: Simon, only son of David and Anne Hill, and Hope, only if daughter of Darcy and Maree Irving of Canberra, were married on Saturday, December 3 at “Ravensthorpe” on the south coast (Albion Park) witnessed by family and friends who travelled from Grenfell, Canberra, Sydney, North Queensland and his sister Elyse jetted in from the UK for the special day.Simon’s best man was Karl Makin of Grenfell. Simon’s grandfather Dave Hill was Karl’s grandfather Max Makin’s best man 60 years ago.Highlight of the night was Simon’s three sisters, Kristen, Laura and Elyse, being MC’s.Simon and Hope are planning a delayed overseas honeymoon.

FAST4 TENNIS: Dominique Mitton, daughter of former residents Andrew and Fran of Bathurst, together with Jacob Bicanic, made the cut to become two of the few ball kids selected to take part in the Fast4 Tennis recently.

The shortened format – Fast4 featured some of the world’s best players in action.Neither Dominique or Jacob are strangers to tennis’ big stage in a ball kid role with Jacob having Australian Open and Dominique having Davis Cup experience but the Fast4 party atmosphere became another fun event to add to their list.Dominique’s father Andrew who runs Bathurst Tennis Centre said it is an experience to savour for the pair. “The experience of being on the court with the players is great for them. They have got the best seats in the house.”

He said “It is great for them because even though they are volunteers they get looked after every day. Of the 170 kids who tried out they were part of the last twelve chosen.”Dominique’s proud grandmother is Judy Mitton of ‘Tabor’ Grenfell.

Please see photo in Tennis news on Page 11.

OBE: Geoff Gravenmaker celebrated his OBE “Over Bloomin’ 80’ birthday on January 25.Geoff was pleasantly surprised when his daughter Pam Mitton travelled all the way from Urunga for his special day.Pam cooked Geoff a beautiful birthday cake and with BevWilliams took him to dinner at Fettlers.

Geoff had been to Canberra earlier to celebrate with his other daughter Karen.


TOGETHER: Last weekend the Hampton family enjoyed a family get-together in Grenfell. Betty Hampton and her partner Arthur from the Central Coast and her sons Murray from Mareeba near Cairns and Allan from Sydney visited the boys’ father George.

George’s sisters Joan McSpadden and Shirley Hazelgrove from Young met at Fettlers Restaurant for dinner.

Shirley’s husband Barry, Joan’s daughters Jenny and her husband Ian Armstrong were in attendance.

Murray’s son Ben who was born February 29 1992 is an Australian professional rugby league footballer who currently plays for the North Queensland Cowboys

Ben, who was born in Wagga, grew up in Temora where he played junior league for the Temora Dragons. When his family moved to Mareeba in North Queensland, played his junior football for the Mareeba Gladiators. Ben made his NRL debut with Melbourne Storm in Round 15 of the 2013 NRL season against the Gold Coast Titans, where he scored the Storm’s two tries.

Murray was known for his musical prowess growing up in Grenfell and by the way, he still enjoys playing.

VISITING FROM QUEENSLAND: Dion Troy and his son Jakub from Flaxton on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland were in town last weekend.

Dion and Jakub had a great time catching up with their mother and grand-mother Julie Wood and Col and enjoyed and evening out to dinner on Friday.

VALE VICTOR LAMKIN: Residents are saddened to learn of the passing of former resident and local farmer Victor Lamkin.Victor, who moved to Nowra some time ago, passed away on Saturday, January 28, aged 94 years.

Victor and his wife Audrey (nee Simpson) had two daughters; Mandy and Annabelle (Lavender) and is the brother of Ron Lamkin.The Lamkins will be remembered as owning the property “Cartreff” on the Forbes Rd.

Sympathy is extended to the families.

(L-R) Murray, George, Betty and Allan Hampton.

Simon Hill and Hope Irving on their wedding day with David and Anne Hill. (Contributed)

Geoff Gravenmaker celebrated his 80th birthday with his daughter Pam Mitton.

Julie Wood with her grandson Jakub (L) and her son Dion when they were visiting from Queensland.

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Dalmeny IGA helps out Moruya Hospital with jaundice detector

Metcash Food & Grocery Area Manager Don Targett, SUPA IGA Moruya’s Dave Dove, IGA Dalmeny’s Ian Stephens, Moruya District Hospital’s Nurse Unit Manager Claudia Stevenson and SUPA IGA Moruya’s Yvette Woods. The Humpty Dumpty Foundation and Dalmeny IGA are making asignificant difference to the lives of Eurobodalla children bypurchasing a piece of vital medical equipment.

Local IGA retailers recently presented Moruya District Hospital’s nurse unit manager Claudia Stevenson with a jaundice detector valued at $4780 for the Maternity Unit.

To acknowledge the contribution to Moruya District Hospital, IGA in turn waspresented with a Humpty Dumpty Foundation thank-you plaque.

All babies are checked for jaundice, or yellowing of the skin,on a daily basis.This jaundice detector is used to help clinicians determine the jaundice levels through the skin without harming the baby. If jaundice is left untreated there is a possibility of cerebral palsy, deafness and/or brain damage.

“This piece of equipment is one of 11 donations IGA retailers across New South Wales and ACT are making to provide much needed equipment to hospitals to the value of $150,000,” said IGA Dalmeny owner Ian Stephens.

“IGA retailers and their teams have been involved with many schools, sporting and community organisations in the Moruya area over many years and we are proud to make this contribution to the local Moruya District Hospital.

“It is great to have access to this state-of-the-art equipment locally and we hope that it can assist many babies and their families if, and when they need it.”

Paul Francis OAM, Humpty Dumpty Foundation founder and executive chairman, said IGA’s support of the Humpty Dumpty Foundation and the local community in which they operate was immeasurable.

“Their support to families in Moruya and surrounding areas means children have access to medical equipment that is very much needed by the medical staff and, most of all, it is life-saving,” he said.“I applaud this contribution to Moruya District Hospital as it demonstrates IGA’s commitment to the wider community.”

The Humpty Dumpty Foundation hasnow raised over $55 million and continuing to make asignificant impact on the lives of sick and injured children at children’s hospitals and health service centres in every state of Australia. It was established over 26 years ago by Mr Francis.

The Humpty Dumpty Foundation has enjoyed long-time support from its patron, television journalist Ray Martin AM, Olympian Jane Flemming OAM – Ambassador/Board Member and Wallaby great Phil Kearns, Ambassador and Founder of the Humpty Dumpty Balmoral Burn.

Through annual fund-raising initiatives including the Good Egg lunch, Balmoral Burn and the Great Humpty Ball along with the support of generous individual and corporate donors, in 2016 the Humpty Dumpty Foundation delivered over 500 pieces of medical equipment to hospitals across Australia.

One of the Humpty Dumpty Foundation’s breakthrough fundraising methods was the creation of Humpty’s Wish List in 2001. Each piece of essential medical equipment that appears on the regularly updated Wish List has been requested specifically by the hospital to meet an immediate need.

The medical equipment requested is stringently assessed by the Humpty Dumpty Foundation’s medical sub-committee made up of senior medical administrators and clinical specialists, before it is added to Humpty’s Wish List.

The Humpty Dumpty Foundation also provides funding for numerous special projects including a part-time Nurse Educator for training in emergency paediatrics, a part-time Bio Mechanical Engineer and weekly visits by the “Clown Doctors” and the magical Happy Gardens (which encourage and promote healing).

To date, 297 hospitals across the nation have benefited from the life-saving medical equipment received specifically to care for children and babies provided by the Humpty Dumpty Foundation and its amazing “Good Egg” supporters.

Locals, community and business organisations interested in supporting the Humpty Dumpty Foundation and their local hospital by donating a piece of medical equipment or by making a donation can view the wish-list at苏州美甲美睫培训humpty苏州美甲美睫培训419论坛or contact the Humpty Dumpty Foundation on02 9419 2410.

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Warm Shire welcome

NEW FACES: Mayor Liz Innes, acting general manager Lindsay Usher and shire councillors with Eurobodalla’s newest citizens on Australia Day.Australia Day had special significance for 10 Eurobodalla residents who took the pledge to become some of the nation’s newest citizens, but for some, the event was a long time coming.

Malua Bay’s Vivien Clare Thornett took the plunge to become an Australian citizen at the shire’s citizenship ceremony in Moruya on January 26 after a half-century wait.

After moving to Australia from across the Tasman at age 20, Vivien spent 50 years juggling her British, Kiwi and Aussie ties.

But the long wait came to become a citizen came to an end last week.

The self-described “cuckoo” said she had finally found her nest.

“Every Australia Day I thought I should be doing it and I never got round to it,” Vivien said.

“I really should have done it sooner because I married into a family where I really should be Australian.

“My husband, John Thornett, was the captain of the Australian Wallabies for many years.”

Although an British citizen for much of her life, the former nurse pledged her allegiance to the green and gold on the sporting field long ago.

“When I first met Johnand we decided to get married,we were playing the Bledisloe Cup and I said because I wasgoing to marry him, I wouldcall for Australia for then on,” Vivien said.

The 70-year-old former nurse said it took a bit of persuading from her golf mentor and close friend Brian McIntosh to follow through with her citizenship application.

“I always wanted to take the step. I just never got round to doing it but Brian was the one who kept pushing me,” she said.

After receiving her certificate, Vivien said she finally felt at home.

“Now I can actually say I belong somewhere, which is a great feeling,” she said.

Vivien was joined by residents from the United States, India, Hungary, the Philippines, England, Norway and Italy at theceremony in Moruya.

Mayor Liz Innes officiated the event andencouraged the Eurobodalla to “look to a future in which we freely celebrate what we love about our home and our country.”

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