Five years ago, Coast FM's Lorna Subritzky, 52, had her life turned upside down when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
This month, the Breast Cancer Foundation ambassador and mother of Max, 22, Lucy, 20, and Zoe, 11, was declared cancer-free. Woman's Weekly caught up with her the day she was given the happy news.
Lorna, congratulations! We are so thrilled for you.
Thank you! You don't realise how nervous you are to get good news until you're in a situation like this! You go, "Oh, I can exhale now."
For the first few years I was pretty complacent, but I had a bit of a scare last year at my four-year check and had to wait to find out if it had returned in my other breast, so you're never quite sure. But I have said goodbye in the nicest possible way to my surgeon now, so that's good!
Does this change anything for you?
Well, we will be celebrating with a bottle of champagne tonight! It's reinforced for me the need to keep banging on about people having mammograms, so I will continue to put pressure on my friends, family and my Coast listeners because here I am. I'm completely cancer-free now.
Other people are not so lucky, yet if you can get it at that early stage, you've got every chance of getting through it. I've been given a clean bill of health and I want to keep it that way now. So, I will be putting some plans in place to get back on the exercise regime and watch my diet a little bit more – although that can start tomorrow!
Do you look on your life as before your cancer diagnosis and after?
Not really, because you never know what's around the corner. This could have happened to anybody. And it does happen to anybody. I guess probably one thing that has changed for me - and it coincides with turning 50 – is just that I have this real desire to embrace life.
I've been to places I never dreamed I would go to like Nepal, Vietnam and Cambodia, as well as cool places like France and Fiji. Why wait to get a terminal diagnosis? Why not just do everything you want to do now? It definitely brought us closer together as a family, too – because we're a blended family. There's nothing like a crisis to help make the little squabbles go away.
You became a blended family quite soon after meeting your husband, didn't you?
Yes, my husband Steve, 47, and I had only been together one year and one day when our daughter Zoe was born. That's how we know when our first date was – we just take a day off her birthday!
That's one way to test a new relationship!
I guess! I think the bigger test was being over 40 and never having envisaged having a child at that stage. I was done and dusted and all fine and dandy. [Lorna's older children Max and Lucy are from a previous marriage.] But I'm that kind of person who just thinks, "Well, this is it."
I said to Steve, "I know this is a shock for you, but it's the right thing for me to do to have this baby." I knew already that he was a very good man. I knew that no matter what happened with us, Zoe was going to be okay.
How did you meet?
We met about six months before we went on our first date at a New Year's party at our local rugby club, of which neither of us are members. I was just finishing off a bad relationship, so we just met and knew who each other were.
Six months later, he asked me out for coffee. He's so different to anyone I've ever dated before. He's very quiet, very logical. He restores and flies vintage aircraft, so he's the furthest thing from media people that you could ever imagine, but I think that's why it works. It's sort of yin and yang.
How has 2020 been for you?
I worked right through and it was a real privilege to be on air during that time, especially during the first lockdown, because there were a lot of scared and lonely people, some of them in lockdown by themselves, and I was their friend, a little familiar touchstone in their lives during that time. For our family, 2020 has been okay, but there's been some terrible things in our wider family that have really hurt.
One of my best friends passed away this year. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer a year before me. It was the same kind, the same outcome, she was all fine and she really helped me through mine. But then she developed colorectal cancer and it spread to her liver and she passed away about eight weeks ago. She was only 53 and she was one of the fittest people I've ever known.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
It's something my dad has passed on and I'm sure it's going to be on my tombstone because I say it all the time … "This too shall pass."