Breast cancer survivor Kaye O'Riley wants women to know there is light at the end of the tunnel. MADDIE WINES reports.
THE first six months following Kaye O'Riley's breast cancer diagnosis were terrible.
There were times, during chemotherapy, when the mother-of-three would break down in tears and say to her husband Peter, 'I don't think I can do this anymore'.
But she made it through and now she wants to let other women know they can, too.
"Until you have been through it, you don't know how emotional or how gruelling it is," she said.
"But there is light at the end of the tunnel and that is what it's all about."
She was diagnosed in early August last year after she discovered a lump on her breast.
A mammogram and ultrasound confirmed the cancer and within three weeks, Mrs O'Riley had a mastectomy and breast reconstruction.
She said the diagnosis came as a complete shock.
"I had no cancer in my family and I was probably the fittest I had ever been in my life," she said.
"I had been (going to the gym) about five to six days a week and I was just a normal mum who was healthy."
Mrs O'Riley has now finished chemotherapy and is on the road to recovery.
In May, she will run in the Mother's Day Classic - a run and walk to raise money and awareness of breast cancer.
She said she wanted women with breast cancer to know they have the strength to beat the illness.
"When you get that first diagnosis it's scary and if someone can see that I have gotten through the first six months (then that's what I want)," she said.
"You get to a stage where you think, 'I can't do this' but you can do it.
"I just want to show women who are just starting the journey, you can, and there is life after that horrible first six months."
Mrs O'Riley said her daughters Molly and Lily, her son Nick, her mother Shirley and Peter would join her on the run.
She said her family played an important role during her treatment.
"It was a team effort," she said.
"The other day my daughter Molly said to me, 'Mum I am so proud of you. You always had a smile on your face even though you were so sick'."
She said the fun run would be an emotional day but she wanted to get her message across.
"(I want) any woman who is starting the journey (to know) you need to hang in there," she said.
"You have to be positive.
"Everybody gets through it.
"I want to live the happiest life I can.
"Even though the past six months have been tough, I now look at this diagnosis as a beautiful gift to me.
"It made me realise that no amount of money, fancy cars or houses can make our lives happy.
"As long as you have your health, family and great friends that's the most precious thing in the world."
The Mother's Day Classic is on May 11 and starts at Beischer Park.
There is a four-kilometre race starting at 9am and eight-kilometre race starting at 8am.
Online registrations close on May 7 while registrations on the day open at 7am.
Bendigo Mother's Day Classic organiser and owner of Fernwood Fitness Bendigo Ben Cook said he expected more than 2000 people to participate.
"It has been growing every year," he said.
"It's about raising community awareness and honouring those who have passed, and those currently inflicted with the illness."
He said money from the entry fees goes to funding breast cancer research.
Visit www.mothersdayclassic.com.au/event/vic/bendigo-vic for information about the Bendigo event.