The sisters who are running for their lives

Amber Clinton, 40, is fighting breast cancer for the second time – and this time, so is her sister, Holly.

This weekend, they will join a fun run to support Breast Cancer Network Australia – and the next day, Holly will have a double mastectomy.

Amber shares the sisters’ story with Sarah Marinos:

“September 2012 rocked my world. That’s when I heard the words, “you have breast cancer”.

I thought my doctor was joking because I believed breast cancer was for women over 50.

But after getting out the shower one day, I noticed my left nipple was inverted.

A friend said I best go to the doctor. By the following week I was at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

There were two cancers. One was pea-sized, and another the size of a lime was wrapped around it.

I had a lumpectomy to remove the smaller lump and then had a mastectomy.

Life changed in unimaginable ways

At the time I’d been with my now-husband, Matt, for 11 months and we had to make decisions you wouldn’t normally make at that stage, like having IVF.

I saved four embryos, but I was too afraid to have a child in case the cancer came back.

I had six months of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation.

I tried hard to keep my life normal despite the pain, sickness, losing my hair and losing a few friends – you become that person people are too scared to visit.

The strength it takes to get through cancer is nothing short of miraculous and I was lucky to have a great support network.

Eventually I was cancer free and stayed that way for five years.

A new blow

But in August 2017, I saw my GP because I’d had a cough I couldn’t shake. She immediately ordered a lung X-ray.

The results showed no sign of anything, but a few months later the cough was still there, so I had a CT scan.

I saw my doctor for the results and heard: “Amber, the breast cancer is back”.

It had spread to my chest and bones and was Stage 4.

After the oncologist advising my husband to prepare for the worst, I’m on my 14th cycle of chemotherapy.

My lungs were completely covered in the inflammatory cancer and now the oncologist can barely see anything, but the spots are still in my bones.

I never thought the universe would be that unkind.

A family’s pain

It turns out my father carries the breast cancer gene.

My sister, Holly, who is 38, was diagnosed with breast cancer in October after she had routine MRI checks.

I never thought the universe would be that unkind.

But thankfully, Holly’s cancer isn’t invasive and the day after we complete the Carman’s run together, she will have a double mastectomy.

When someone asks me why I’m doing the run and raising money for Breast Cancer Network Australia, I tell them it’s because I want to live – and I don’t want anyone else to have to go through this debilitating disease.”

Amber and Holly will run in the 2018 Carman’s Women’s Fun Run in Melbourne on Sunday, December 2, to support Breast Cancer Network Australia.

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