BEING told she had breast cancer two days before Christmas 2015 was not the festive surprise Gerry Smith had been hoping for.
She visited her regular doctor on December 22 to be thoroughly checked over, with the hope of being able to fall pregnant with her third child.
By a stroke of luck her GP informed Gerry it was now routine to perform regular breast checks, which was when a lump was first detected.
“It hadn’t even crossed my mind, I was in my mid 30s at the time,” Gerry said.
“I was so lucky my doctor had performed the check when she did, which meant we caught it pretty early.
“I had all the tests done immediately and the next day, on December 23, it all came back to indicate I had a stage one, grade three ductal carcinoma.”
Gerry’s life with her husband Darian and their two young sons Jasper and Sam, was promptly turned upside down.
On February 11, 2016 Gerry had a mastectomy to remove her left breast, followed by six rounds of chemotherapy.
Thankfully the treatment was successful and she has been in remission for more than six months.
In that time she also had her right breast removed as a preventative measure, followed by reconstructive surgery.
Throughout the ordeal Gerry said she had an extremely supportive network of family and friends to help her through the process that was made harder by raising two little boys at the same time.
Originally farmers from Hyden, Gerry and Darian relocated to Perth a few years ago and were in the process of moving to Corrigin for a new job opportunity when Gerry’s cancer was diagnosed.
Both communities haven’t hesitated in getting behind Gerry when she decided to participate in the annual Walk for Women’s Cancer, raising money for the WA-based Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, specialising in cancers affecting women.
This year Gerry will strap on her new walking shoes with her two school friends, Maggie York and Anouska Falconer, supporting and walking with her on Saturday, May 6, to stride out a marathon-length route through Perth.
Every step of the 42 kilometre journey Gerry and her team aim to walk will be to celebrate the lives of the many women who have survived cancer, but also to honour those who did not.
Gerry’s goal is to raise $10,000 towards the cause, and with the help of the expansive village of supporters around her, she is already one of the leading fundraisers with a current total of $8313.45.
The Hyden community held a morning tea three weeks ago, raising $1551 and Gerry’s sister Rosemary Mumme also held a successful morning tea in Perth two weeks later, contributing to $1445 toward the cause.
When questioned why she wanted to do the 42km walk, Gerry sounded determined when she answered.
“It’s for any woman who’s ever been affected by cancer,” she said.
“I want to show them that you can get back out there into life, that even though you’ve been down in the dark depths, you can come back from it, there is light.
“This is my own little personal challenge, an achievement in a way.
“What’s kept me going, even from those very early days of my diagnosis, is my positive attitude and I’m positive we can all help find a cure for these devastating diseases.”
Gerry has been training for the past three months with regular walking, preparing her feet and strengthening her muscles for the long-distance feat.
The key message she wants to pass on is to not to hesitate and always have regular checks.
“I encourage both men and women to have regular checks, not just their breasts, but everything,” she said.
“And if you find something, don’t be afraid to get it looked at – don’t hesitate.
“I don’t take anything for granted anymore, I’m thankful I’ve been given a second chance to live my life and carry on.
“I want to grow old with my husband, I want to be here to cuddle my boys and see them get married and have their own kids.
“I’m not ready to give any of that up.”
To support and donate towards Gerry’s goal of $10,000, go to https://hawaiian-walk.every day