“It’s getting to bath time, sorry,” mother of two Holly Finnigan says over the background clamour of her kids, Isaiah and Estelle, crying for attention.
The Armadale-based primary school teacher, currently on maternity leave, sounds energetic and at home amongst the ruckus, with hopes of returning to the classroom next term.
But the vigour in her voice belies a tragic turn of events that her young family is still coming to terms with.
Two weeks ago, 32-year-old Holly was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I hold many titles, most of which make my heart burst with an insurmountable amount of pride,” Holly wrote in a Facebook post on September 4.
“Being an outpatient at an oncology unit was not a title that I ever expected.
“It’s almost like I’m talking about someone else, but that someone else is me. There’s noise, but no words. I have breast cancer.”
The shocking diagnosis has stunned the young mother, saying that even her GP was hesitant to fully consider cancer as a possibility due to Holly’s age and health.
“The pathway to the diagnosis was very unexpected and quick,” Holly said, speaking to Examiner Newspapers on Tuesday.
“When I found a lump, I sought out a medical referral from a GP for an ultrasound.
“That actually came back as pointing towards non-cancerous and even though there was a recommendation to follow it up with a biopsy, the GP said, “given your age, given your family history, you haven’t got cancer.”
“I left that appointment and I had a bit of a feeling that something wasn’t right.
“After speaking to my family, they said ‘what have you got to lose?’ so I said, ‘no, I do need this referral.’
“She wrote on the referral that I was perhaps just scared, but the only thing I’m scared about is what would have happened if I didn’t advocate for my own health.”
Holly says that, with her “very supportive” family and fiancé, Michael, backing her all the way, she is determined to turn the terrifying experience into a positive.
“If by sharing this chapter in my life I can empower others to advocate for themselves, to check themselves and to arm themselves with knowledge that cancer isn’t ‘just’ for unhealthy or elderly people, then perhaps I’m doing something right amidst all the wrong.”
With an aggressive treatment plan mapped out, Holly said she is drawing strength and support from the ‘village’ of family and friends that surrounds her.
Some of that support has come in the form of a GoFundMe, set up unexpectedly by Holly’s best friend.
“That was totally unexpected, we are just blown away,” Holly said.
“We are overwhelmed by the amount of love and support that has come through, we are very, very grateful.
“They say it takes a village, well my village are fierce, but they will need support too.
“So, reach out to us, check in with us, be kind to us and pray for us.
“I’ve got this and they’ve got me. So come at me, cancer. I can tell you now, you’ve met your match, because I’m made tougher than you think.”