New snacks on sale now for a limited time! Use code NEW for 15% off.

My Cancer Just Happened Out of the Blue”: How Colette Went From a Holiday to A Triple Negative Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Healthy, fit and young, Colette was hardly the poster child – or woman – for cancer, but with rapidly growing rates of cancer in the under 40s category, she’s far from alone. here’s what the Aussie mum wants others to look out for, and what she wants us to know about recovery, mental health and post-treatment struggles that are widely misunderstood. 

"I started rocking backwards and forwards crying," Colette tells Unprocessed. "It just comes out of nowhere and you're not equipped to take it in my stride at all in that moment."

It was during a trip that Colette Chase noticed a lump on her breast – her fears were confirmed soon after she returned home. Joining the Unprocessed podcast, the Community Ambassador for National Breast Cancer Foundation is here to bust a bunch of breast cancer myths and break down the barriers to awareness and support – and it all started with her own cancer journey. 

"I actually felt a lump while I was on holidays overseas," she recounted. "And so as soon as I got back, I scheduled myself in for a mammogram and ultrasound trying not to get too concerned."

Colette says the moment of dread finally struck when the sonographer couldn't hide the concern on her face. The cancer ambassador was immediately sent for a biopsy, and her worst fears were confirmed when she received the news from her doctor; "I'm very sorry, Colette, it's cancer."

It’s cancer – two words no one wants to hear. To make matters worse, Colette was given a diagnosis of a rare and aggressive form of triple negative breast cancer, sparking six months of rigorous treatment that challenged her not only physically, but mentally too. And as a mum to two girls, the Aussie ambassador reveals the lesser-known struggle of cancer patients – breaking the news to loved ones. 

“My children were 18 and 20 at the time,” she says. “And so I had these clever ‘I’ll be okay’ kind of statements in my head kicking around and the minute I saw their faces, I just couldn't contain myself and I think we all just had a cry.”

Though “the news was a massive shock,” Colette had little time to process her diagnosis, and was thrust into extensive, painful treatment.

What followed was a debilitating six months of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.   

“So, you've got the IV in your arm and you can see the thing and then it hits your arm and it's this sort of cold, dull ache and then it starts within minutes you've got is blinding headache and then the deterioration of a bunch of side effects,” she says of chemotherapy.

From that point, Colette's journey was filled with medical appointments, tests, and treatments. The severity of her situation became clear with the diagnosis of metastatic cancer, meaning the cancer cells had spread past her breast tissue. "You have a small tumour in your lymph nodes," Colette’s doctor told her. "We're going to have to throw the book at you." 

Throughout the process, Colette faced the physical and emotional challenges head-on. Chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation became part of her daily routine. Colette described the side effects and the overwhelming feeling of not wanting to be there – a struggle she says we don’t discuss enough when it comes to cancer.

"I just had a very low level of acceptance," she admitted. "Cancer doesn't muck around, and my type of cancer is 1% of us."

Managing Mental Health + Post-Treatment Struggles

Colette wants us to know that cancer doesn’t end after treatment – the anxieties about recurrence are ongoing, as are the check-ups, the side effects and the mental health difficulties. 

"The hardest part is mentally, the hardest part is not going through the treatment. It's once the treatment is complete,” she says. “Physically you can start repairing, but mentally, it’s very, very hard for the first couple of years because you're cut loose.

“No one can ever tell you definitively that they have removed every cancer cell in your body. So once your treatment is complete and in the case of triple negative breast cancer patient, there isn't anything that we can take to prevent recurrence with the positive.”

Life after cancer treatment is often portrayed as a return to normalcy, but for many survivors like Colette, it's a journey filled with new challenges and uncertainties. The fear of recurrence is a constant companion for Colette and many other cancer survivors. "Any ache or pain that you have, that's persistent, you're afraid that it's possibly cancer," she admits. "You walk around with that for a couple of years." 

To cope with her anxiety and regain a sense of control, Colette has adopted various strategies. "You're looking for control because you have so little," she says. "One thing that I could do was to quit sugar because it's something I can control."

Sugar, Colette explains, is extremely inflammatory on the body, and eliminating it from her diet was one way she could take charge of her health and well-being. "It helped give me control," she says. "So, it's about trying to find the things that you can control versus the things you can't."

Yes, there is a correlation between excess sugar consumption and inflammation. Our IQS 8-Week Program is designed to help you reduce your sugar intake and been proven to significantly reduce fatigue, inflammation, gut issues, bad skin, bad sleep and SO MUCH MORE! It's because we give you the full tool kit to help you learn more about sugar, what it does to your body and why you should care. Plus, it's delicious! You get full weekly meal plans, recipes, motivation, expert advice and more to help you on your journey to better health. Sign up HERE! 

In addition to managing her diet, Colette has surrounded herself with a supportive network of healthcare professionals. "I've got the physio, I like the lymphatic physio, I like a nutritionist," she says. "It's about finding the things that resonate with you."

Navigating life after cancer treatment also involves regular check-ups and screenings. Colette schedules appointments with her oncologist and surgeon every six months for peace of mind and reassurance. "By and large, chemotherapy and radiation mop up whatever's left," she explains. "Then you move on to just 12-month mammograms and ultrasounds."

Approaching her five-year mark as a survivor, Colette reflects on her journey with a sense of gratitude and empowerment – and now she’s fighting to help other women through their cancer diagnoses.

Want to learn more about Colette’s work with National Breast Cancer Foundation? Follow the link to read up on their efforts to increase awareness around cancer, and find out how you can help.

If you’re keen to learn more about Colette’s journey and her tips for others, head on over to the Unprocessed podcast for the full episode, plus a range of other episodes that dive into health, healing and providing a space for women’s experiences.

Join the 8-Week Program: Discovering a healthier, happier you has never been easier with the IQS 8-Week Program app. How does it work, you ask? Let's break it down. Personalised programs tailored to your health goals await at your fingertips after your answer a short quiz, and voila – you're matched with the ideal program crafted by the top experts in diet and nutrition.

But that's not all. Need extra support? Say hello to 1-on-1 health coaching. Our dedicated team is here to guide, motivate, and arm you with the tools you need to succeed, every step of the way. Plus, with personalised meal planning and instant grocery lists, mealtime stress becomes a thing of the past. Easily track macros and calories with a single click, and dive into a treasure trove of delicious, easy-to-make recipes for every meal of the day. But perhaps the best part? You're never alone on your journey. Join our amazing community for unwavering support, hundreds of hours of instructional videos, and stay on track with supportive emails, notifications, and easy-to-do tasks. With the IQS 8-Week Program app, achieving your health goals has never been more achievable – or enjoyable. 

Make a change for YOU – don’t wait, JOIN NOW!



Leave a comment (all fields required)

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Search our shop