What I wish I knew - Naveena's breast cancer story
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Naveena and Laika
Do you know that around 60% of breast cancer cases are random? I didn’t.
I only found out after I was diagnosed with stage three and grade three breast cancer in December of 2014.
I had no family history of breast cancer and no reason to believe that I would ever have it. I guess everyone thinks that it won’t happen to them.
I had been working at Medibank for nearly two years when I was diagnosed. I had worked on Medibank’s public offering in 2014 and was a senior leader within the business.
All the while, I had a lump in my breast. I had been convincing myself it was just a cyst.
When I took sick leave to undertake my treatment, I wanted everyone to know what it was for. I wanted my diagnosis to be a wake-up call for my colleagues and friends, for them to know that it can happen to anyone.
At Medibank we spend a lot of time thinking about our customers’ experience in the health system, and Medibank’s role in their health journey. That’s why when I went on sick leave – to start what ended up being surgery, followed by 16 rounds of chemotherapy and 30 rounds of radiation – I felt that Medibank could have played a bigger part in mine.
They provided the financial support for me as a customer to receive my care, but I saw an opportunity for Medibank to take a more active role in my cancer journey.
My clinician helped me through the life or death issues. But I wish there had been someone to tell me about the small things, the things that make it all more bearable; what it means when your tongue and nails go blue, what to do when your temperature spikes, or that ice cream can help with that terrible metallic taste in your mouth.
When I eventually returned to work I found myself with a unique perspective; I was a Medibank employee, but I was also a customer who had gone through the health system.
I decided that I was going to use my experience to help others who had been diagnosed with cancer, and point out opportunities to extend more support to customers.
I started telling senior leaders and colleagues about my experience; the effect that the cancer treatment had on me not only physically but also mentally. And how Medibank could provide more support to people like me, who have been diagnosed with cancer.
My experience in the health system has since helped bring new insight to what Medibank offers customers and helped build stronger relationships with the peak breast cancer organisation, Breast Cancer Network of Australia (BCNA).
I worked with team who look after Medibank’s Health Concierge program to help inform their Breast Cancer Support Service and build a “managing breast cancer” booklet with all the information I and other women had wished for when we were diagnosed.
I continue to consult within the business to advocate for customers and those who are undergoing treatment for cancer. Because of my experience I want to make sure that Medibank customers receive as much support – and the right support – throughout their breast cancer journey.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
An extract from the managing breast cancer booklet is available to download.
What is Medibank Health Concierge?
Medibank Health Concierge provides personalised health support to help eligible customers prepare for, or recover from, a hospital stay or treatment. It’s our way of offering the extra support and care our customers need, when they need it most, to help them get the best possible outcome. Read more about Health Concierge here.
If you are a Medibank customer and want to understand more about Health Concierge you can chat with our in-store team today or call 13 23 31