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Sassy Survivors is no ordinary support network and its members are not ordinary women. The issues faced by young women diagnosed with breast cancer are numerous and complex. Our 20’s and 30’s are supposed to a time when we focus on our careers, meet the love of our lives and maybe even start a family.

A diagnosis of breast cancer, or any cancer for that matter, changes everything. Your physical appearance is altered, your fertility is under threat and as for work … well, anyone whose endured chemotherapy will agree that it takes months, sometimes years, to get back on your feet.

All the women in Sassy Survivors have faced, or are facing, these challenges.  All our stories are different, but we share a common goal – to show the wider community that there is life after cancer and that breast cancer can affect women of any age.

    Deb Eccleston

    In October 2008, at the age of 33, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. After 12 months of treatment I came to realise there wasn’t a support system in place on the Gold Coast for young women affected by breast cancer. Towards the end of 2009 I set about establishing a support network for those women to share our stories. The purpose of Sassy Survivors is simple – to help women under the age of 45 diagnosed with breast cancer knows there are others who have been through the same battle and triumphed. Sassy Survivors originated on the Gold Coast, but has evolved to meet the needs of young women with busy lives. Moving into the online space means our unique style of support is more accessible to more people – any time, any place.

    Kim Seed

    In November 2009, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 35. I’d heard about Deb’s group not long after I was diagnosed and began attending meetings in 2010. Deb and I are kindred spirits, so it was no surprise that later that year I became her wing chick. Luckily, we both share a crazy kind of thinking that allows Sassy Survivors’ direction to be ruled by the universe. So far I am enjoying the trip and it’s very rewarding knowing that young Gold Coast women have an amazing support network to tap in to.

    Caroline Van Der Vlugt

    I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 37 years and I struggled at the time with the fact that, although I knew that women could get breast cancer at any age, there was nothing out there that related to me at the time. All I wanted was to talk to someone young like me, who had gone through the same thing and had come through and was well and thriving years later. I suppose I wanted some kind of proof I could survive and be here 10+ years later. I love that Sassy Survivors gives that support and hope to young women affected by breast cancer. The women I have met through Sassy Survivors support and encourage me. I know that I can speak freely among them and that I am not alone.

    Cherry Savage Wood

    I was a fit and healthy mum of two active toddlers when my husband found a pea-size lump in my breast. I wasn’t too worried – I’d looked after myself, exercised regularly, ate healthily, done all the right things and there was no family history of breast cancer. It couldn’t happen to me, could it? How naive I was – breast cancer doesn’t play by the rules. I was lucky – after two rounds of chemo, radiation and a lumpectomy I was declared cancer- free. But I will never forget the disbelief, utter devastation and bewilderment at my diagnosis. Those first few weeks I was surrounded by family and friends but I’d never felt so alone. A school mum, Maria (a breast cancer survivor and ‘Sassy Sista’), introduced me to Sassy Survivors. Finally, a community of like-minded young women who understood and could offer guidance and reassurance based on their own experiences! I’ve gained so much and now committed to helping other young women who are struggling with their diagnosis.

    Emma Hopkinson

    I’m a single mum to three beautiful children and was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 aged 36. After completing chemo and radiotherapy, I relocated from Mackay to the Gold Coast. In Mackay, my support group was the Dragons Abreast ladies, who had read about Sassy Survivors in the Sunday Paper and thought they would be good for me. I gave them a call and the rest, as they say, is history. I felt an instant affinity with the girls – they are funny, supportive and the thing I like best about being with fellow survivors is that they instantly GET you and don’t pity you. In 2015 I found out I carry the faulty BRCA2 gene. My surgeons highly recommended a preventive double mastectomy, which I had followed by a breast reconstruction. Being a part of Sassy Survivors means I’m able to share my experience, understanding and positive attitude with newly-diagnosed women. I want them to know life will go on, it will be great and they will laugh again.

    Maria Dorling

    I was diagnosed in 2008 with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma aged 39 years. Following a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation, I felt the need to be around like-minded women… and I discovered Sassy Survivors. Being part of Sassy’s allows me to share my fears and hopes for my future with women who understand, as we have all lived through the diagnosis of cancer. We laugh, we cry, but most of all we are there to support each other with no judgement… just love. Sassy’s provides me with strength when I feel battered and allows me to celebrate when life is great. It also provides me with an amazing pool of knowledge, as we all come from different walks of life. The support we give each other is a lifeline.

    Sue Ellen Carroll

    After being diagnosed with a high-grade DCIS in 2013 at the age of 44, I was pointed in the direction of Sassy Survivors. These meetings and the women at them became my sanity savers, the highlight of my month and something to look forward to. They provided me with advice, they understood all my concerns and answered every question that I could throw at them. The biggest thing they gave me was my smile… and loads of laughs. This is my silver lining of breast cancer. Making lifelong friends who completely understand what I have been through and knowing that I will always have women who will help me up if I falter, who will be kind to me when I am not kind enough to myself and will accept me as I am.

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