Councillor Dana Wensley is advocating for more support for the Cancer Society, despite this year’s event being postponed due to fears that Covid-19 will spread.

Dana is no stranger to battles. Last June, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Despite a family history of breast cancer, Dana says it came as a complete shock.

“I was devastated,” she says. “I’ve always kept myself fit and healthy, and it felt unfair. But cancer is unfair”

After being denied a biopsy after discovering breast changes and being told to return to Nelson Hospital in 6 months for a repeat MRI, Dana says that with a family history of breast cancer, waiting around ‘was not an option.’

“I said, ‘I’m not going to be one of those women who falls through the cracks. I’m not.’”

Dana then went private for her biopsy, paying out of pocket, which led to an eventual diagnosis of breast cancer, but she says the stress was ‘exhausting.’

“It ate me up, it was really stressful being let down by the system and having to figure it out on your own.
“Cancer is a hard pathway. It’s not like breaking your leg, where you know it’s going to heal and get better every month. You have so much uncertainty, and there are a lot of difficult decisions that you have to make for yourself.”

Since her diagnosis Dana has undergone several major operations, including two mastectomies. She says she wouldn’t have gotten through it without the support of organisations like the Cancer Society.

“The cancer society has been crucial. I just felt like they embraced me.”

One of the key elements of support that the Cancer Society provided was counselling and an 8-week funded fitness rehabilitation programme, working with strength and conditioning coach Tyson Fitzpatrick.

“I had never been to a gym before, so it was incredibly daunting,” Dana says. “I was extremely limited in my movement, and the programme has helped to make me feel strong again. When you feel strong physically, you start to feel strong mentally.”

Programmes like the fitness course provided have been ‘crucial’ to recovery, Dana says.

“God knows what would happen to me, and other people, without the Cancer Society. They are fundamental to society.”

Dana says that while she is disappointed that the relay won’t be taking place, she believes that supporting the Cancer Society is vitally important. “We’re encouraging people to continue making their donations because the work that the Cancer Society does is really crucial.

“Every minute of the day I know how fortunate I am,” she says.

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