Incredibly Inspiring Cancer Survivor Stories – The Reason We Are Raising Funds For Purple Hearts

Three of our amazing patients have been brave enough to share their stories about their journey of healing from Cancer. Their stories and their strength is what has motivated Embody Physiotherapy + Pilates director and senior Physiotherapist and Pilates instructor, Karolina Nesterowicz, to organise a fund raise in collaboration with The Purple Hearts Group, to raise funds for Women’s Cancer Research.

Kaylene Uebergang

Why am I blogging now, I am not really sure I can answer that, but here we go……

I am coming to the end of a very tumultuous 18 months. It was originally all about the diagnosis……. “Your results have come back positive!” Those very words threw my very happy, organised untroubled world into chaos.

Most people who know me, would know that I throw myself into everything and anything I truly believe in. I don’t believe in doing anything half heartedly and that’s something my mother taught me…..”if you are going to do it, do it properly or don’t do it at all”.

Let’s go back a step……..Feb 2014, I committed to taking on a change in my life, and it was huge, as I was happy and comfortable right where I was, yet I needed something, something to challenge me and to spice things up in Kaylene’s predictable world.

So back to school it was, and studying is so not my thing, but by July I was a fully qualified PT. Before I knew it my little business, my very own little business was up and running.
UEBERFIT – ‘achievements over and above’, my mantra, to live by, now and always and my now Business name!

Things took off, without even trying, I was up and running with group sessions and more one on one PT clients than I ever imagined. Life was good, working hours dictated by me and I was able to do something I believed in, working with some really great people helping them nudge at their goals, but more importantly be the mum I wanted to be all at the same time.

Six months in and life was really rosy, I was at the fittest physically and mentally, the healthiest and just embracing life. I was working on the next steps for the business, where do I take this?????  Low and behold, ‘life was never meant to be easy’ as they say and this was how I was going to find out…….

So the big ‘C’ enters my or should I say our world and everything gets thrown upside down.

My mantra was coming on this journey with me….. no matter what, because no matter how scared I was I knew one thing it wasn’t going to beat me down!

So the appointments with GP’s, Surgeons, Oncologist etc began, two surgeries later, then followed by chemo, which was then followed by radio and then some more chemo(which I am still having)………none of this would beat me down.

Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been easy, however my strong will and determination has pushed me through all of it, but I was never prepared for the next stage which was mentioned in my consults, but sub consciously I believe I chose to ignore.

MENOPAUSE!!! Yes I am yelling it out loud because like having a baby everyone has a very individual experience, and sadly mine so far is sucking the life out of me. It was just one of those things that comes as a result of the treatment.

You I was one of those young girls who truly believed that the symptoms of Menopause was just in people’s head, well now I am here and I am embarrassed to admit that I am going through it all.

Written by Kaylene Uebergang

Kay McDonald

I suppose my story started just over 10years ago when my dearest friend and I decided to go away for our 40th birthdays. We both had young families, I lived in Perth and she lived in Melbourne so we didn’t always have the opportunity to see each.

2 Days before we left she called to tell me she had just been to see her GP with a server pain in her breast.  She was sent straight for tests and was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer.  Needless to say our worlds where turned upside down!  She had 2 major operations and over a year of Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy.  My beautiful friend went through hell and back and I’m so proud of how she got through everything.

After this I booked myself in for regular mammograms and each time I was told to make sure I do regularly checks as my breast tissue was very dense.  This made it difficult for them to see if I had any problems.

Move 10years on and for our 50th Birthday we decided to go away again.  About a month before we left I had a pain in my breast and just put it down to the normal pain you usually get each month but for some reason it just wouldn’t go away. So I went to visit my GP and although I had a mammogram the year before she thought it would be a good idea to have another and an Ultra sound.

So 3 days before we fly out for 2 weeks, I have my tests and my GP calls me in to tell me that they  have found a lump which is close to my breast bone, which is why I couldn’t feel anything.  After a lengthy discussion with my GP, I decided to go away as I didn’t know when I would ever have this opportunity again.

The day after I arrived home was like a whirlwind of Doctors appointments.  I think this is the most overwhelming and frightening part of the whole illness. Trying to decide what is the best thing for me, who are the best doctors, what it my plan of attack?   I can’t begin to thank my GP for all her help and support through this time.  A great GP is priceless!!   I was lucky that I was Stage 1 but it was quite aggressive.  After surgery I had 8 rounds of chemo and 6 weeks of daily visits for radiotherapy.

Without the support of my wonderful Husband, two boys, amazing family, friends and work colleagues I’m not sure my journey would have been quite the same.

One of the hardest parts of everything was telling people, especially my two teenage boys.  My husband and I tried to keep our family routine as normal as possible and not to let it overtake our lives.  I still went to work when I could and did my Pilates classes when I was feeling OK.  Both my Surgeon and Oncologist said that because I was relatively fit before I was sick and I kept active and positive throughout my treatment, it helped with my recovery.

Everyone is different on how they see things and how they react when faced with such a challenge as Cancer.   I was lucky that I felt OK and decided that I didn’t want it to rule my life so I just got on with it.  I didn’t want my family and friends to see my any differently and I didn’t want my only conversation to be about my health ….and the weather.

2years on and I’m feeling OK.  The treatment does take a lot out of your body, but I’m back to my Pilates and Yoga and enjoying life.  I still have my 3 monthly appointments with my Specialists (who are amazing people) and I still worry each time I go or I get a funny ache or pain,  but I try not think about it too much, as I now have a life to live!!  I’m also trading in my best friend, who I’m no longer going on holidays with!!

Written by Kay McDonald


Tracee Blythe

The cervical cancer adverts encourage young women to have their regular pap smears to ensure early detection of ‘up to 90% of cervical cancers’.  When I was 28 I was diagnosed with the type of cervical cancer that falls into the other 10% category.


I hadn’t missed a pap smear, but I knew things weren’t right (unexplained bleeding, bloating and pain) so began the process of figuring out what it was that wasn’t right.


At 28 I had to be a strong advocate for my own health to even reach this diagnosis – to the medical professionals it was so unlikely.  I wasn’t over 60, I didn’t smoke, and I hadn’t been pregnant, but the eventual biopsy was conclusive. Endocervical Adenocarcinoma, prescribed treatment a radical hysterectomy, asap.


Although life changing in and of itself, the surgery was a success.  I was in the clear and the feared chemo and radiation would not be necessary.  I was discharged to a routine of follow up scans, tests and the always dreaded internal exam.  Besides these systematic processes – for which I am grateful for and I’m pleased to say I have a 100% pass mark so far – I wasn’t told how to prevent it coming back (probably because no one really knows the answer to that question).

So I was discharged to the world as an entirely different 28 year old, and not just because there were a few missing parts of me and I had an impressively neat surgical scar.  I was now in ‘remission’ and needed to make a plan to stay that way, not just wait for the test to say that it had recurred.

I took stock of where I was in life – were the choices I made helping me or harming me?  Was I achieving what I wanted? was I where I wanted to be?  Essentially, how could I help myself to minimise the risk of recurrence to ensure that I had choices to make in this life.

So of course I started drinking green smoothies (before they were cool and/or socially acceptable) , consuming greens by the paddock and packing as much phytonutrient rich food into every meal as I could.  I dramatically reduced my alcohol intake and generally made bettor food choices more often.

I also recognised that exercise is an intrinsic part of healing, recovery and minimising recurrence.  I had always admired runners, (particularly distance runners for their ability to endure) so I decided to take up running too…

To start with it was painfully slow.  My first ever uninterrupted 1k was so long in the making that it was celebrated as though I’d just won gold at the olympics.  But before long (just shy of two years post surgery) I’d crossed the finish line of my first half marathon and then two years after that I completed the city to surf marathon, all 42.2k.  There were a few teary moments, where I thought I might not be able to make it up some of those killer hills, but what got me through was the gratitude and elation I felt for simply having the capacity to take up a sport like this.

7 years later and I still get that feeling almost every run – the gratitude and elation that is, not the tears, thankfully!

I now continue to set myself goals and work towards them, always with the aim of respect, kindness and gratitude for my body and its ability to work through the challenges that are either thrown at it by the universe, or bestowed upon it by me.

Written by Tracee Blythe

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