A Whanganui woman with breast cancer knows exactly how beneficial Pink Ribbon Breakfast events can be.

Kristy Humphries has spent the past six years fighting breast cancer, not once but twice, and is encouraging people to support the annual Pink Ribbon Breakfasts which are the Breast Cancer Foundation NZ's biggest fundraising campaign.

The mum of three was first diagnosed in 2013 after having problems with her milk ducts when breastfeeding her youngest son and noticing a pain in her left breast.

Her doctor referred her for a mammogram, which came back clear, and a biopsy which was inconclusive.

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However, her ultrasound results showed two lumps in her breast and, after a core biopsy, it was confirmed she had ER/PR-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer.

Humphries had a full mastectomy due to the lumps being slightly different and then went through five rounds of chemotherapy - all that her body could handle, she said.

Humphries then had to decide whether to go ahead with radiation and chose not to as she was on the grey scale which meant it was not essential.

She was also meant to be on hormone therapy as her cancer is hormone-driven. Humphries said she took tamoxifen for four months but could not tolerate it.

"I opted for quality of life and that certainly took all of that away so I stopped tamoxifen and then had six years cancer-free."

 Kristy Humphries loves the special moments in life like spending time with her son Denby Whittington. Photo / Supplied
Kristy Humphries loves the special moments in life like spending time with her son Denby Whittington. Photo / Supplied

Two years later she had a TRAM (transverse rectus abdominis) flap breast reconstruction and was attending annual MRIs. They all came back clear until the most recent one on August 2 last year where a new 40mm tumour was discovered in her reconstructed breast.

"That was devastating and obviously, because I had gone past the five-year mark, I was what they considered 'in remission' so I had signed off from oncology and surgeons.

"Secondary breast cancer generally isn't very good, not many people survive from it, and generally if you've got it back, it's travelled."

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Humphries said she was terrified to go through it all again but her previous surgeon handled her appointment and surgery process and she had another surgery in September 2019 where all her lymph nodes were removed.

As a hairdresser by trade, Humphries said she really did not want to have the surgery as she now has lymphoedema for life and struggles with it every day. Lymphoedema is a lymphatic system blockage that causes swelling, usually in the arms or legs.

She had another surgery in October where half of her pectoral muscle was removed. That was followed by four rounds of chemotherapy and three weeks of radiation which she finished the day before Covid-19 lockdown.

At 42 Humphries is now going through hormone therapy and has been put into menopause where she takes a pill every night and receives an injection to kill off her ovaries.

But she is now cancer-free and said she is focusing on "putting herself back together, mentally, physically and emotionally".

Kristy Humphries is hosting a Pink Ribbon Breakfast to raise funds for breast cancer research. Photo / Lewis Gardner
Kristy Humphries is hosting a Pink Ribbon Breakfast to raise funds for breast cancer research. Photo / Lewis Gardner

Humphries said knowledge, services and drugs have become more available during her six-year journey, thanks to the funds raised through Pink Ribbon Breakfasts.

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"They even cover emotional wellbeing now with psychologists who train at Massey University in cancer psychology being available for patients and their family.

"It's been fantastic to see the growth and they're definitely heading in the right direction to find a cure."

This year Humphries is hosting her own "breakfast" at Mint Cafe from 5pm to 7pm on Sunday, July 12.

"Cocktails and Canapes" will feature entertainment by Tim Davies and a live auction that includes an item from women's clothing label Augustine and a glass piece by Katie Brown.

Tickets are $35 and can be purchased by phoning Kristy Humphries on 0211605880 .

To host a Pink Ribbon Breakfast visit https://pinkribbonbreakfast.co.nz/
or to donate to Humphries' breakfast visit https://pinkribbonbreakfast.co.nz/page/kristyhumphries

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