Kate Gale and her husband have both beaten cancer, and her new book aims to help others do the same

HELPING: Kate Gale with her book Thanks for the Mammaries: I had cancer but it never had me. Picture: Kate Healy
HELPING: Kate Gale with her book Thanks for the Mammaries: I had cancer but it never had me. Picture: Kate Healy

After surviving breast cancer that was diagnosed when she was just 27, and watching her husband battle kidney cancer just five years later, Kate Gale understands the physical and mental toll of being both a patient and a carer of someone with cancer.

But it wasn't until her husband's diagnosis that she realised she had not actually mentally dealt with her own fight against the disease.

"When Bob was diagnosed, I realised that I was not ok after my cancer fight. I had been through a lot and had not mentally dealt with that and when I heard Bob had cancer, I just thought 'oh my god here we go again'," she said.

"He was my rock all the way through and I had to step up and be his rock, which was very difficult.

"I was like a duck; graceful on top of the water but underneath paddling as hard as I could to keep afloat."

Ms Gale used last year's COVID lockdowns to write her second book Thanks for the Mammaries: I had cancer but it never had me to help other people going through difficult life experiences.

"We can't do anything about the hand we are dealt but we can choose to play it how we want, and most of all, we must continue to keep dreaming big," she said.

Another strong message in the book is not just about doing something once you have been diagnosed, but taking personal responsibility to be proactive and aware of cancer risks and changes to the body.

And while she "hates" being in the spotlight , Ms Gale is gives talks to various clubs and groups throughout the community, recognising that if it helps one person be proactive about their physical or mental health then it's worth it.

SURVIVOR: Kate Gale is also involved in fundraising for FECRI, Cancer Council and talking to various clubs and community groups. Picture: Adam Trafford

SURVIVOR: Kate Gale is also involved in fundraising for FECRI, Cancer Council and talking to various clubs and community groups. Picture: Adam Trafford

Her husband's diagnosis with kidney cancer, and the family's involvement with Relay for Life, also made her realise there are many more different cancers out there affecting tens of thousands of people than just breast cancer.

"COVID-19 is a recent menace, but cancer is always lurking in the shadows: it is a silent but ever-present killer for young and old," she said.

And she wants people to be brave enough to ask questions about cancer, believing many people still don't want to talk about it despite its prevalence.

"I put myself out there as a breast cancer survivor but I don't want people to look at me and say 'there's that breast cancer chick' I don't want to be defined by it. I want to make a difference for all cancers.

"Cancer is a huge part of our life, but at the same time we want people to be able to talk about it and ask questions, those hard questions. When they ask and get an answer, it becomes relatable.

"Having belief that you can get through, putting the mummy guilt to the side, and taking time out for yourself to heal is ok."

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A percentage of every book sold is being donated to the Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute to help fund research toward a cure for cancer.

Ms Gale had planned a book launch before Christmas but five days before the planned date her books were being held up by customs in Brisbane, which was ironic because the launch of her first book was derailed by floods in Brisbane in 2012.

"My first book went swimming up the Brisbane River in the 2012 floods so we had a bit of a laugh about having a book launch without any books, but I wasn't going to have a book launch without any books again so I cancelled it but the book is available now," she said.

This story Survivor helps answer the big cancer questions first appeared on The Courier.