JENNY McKay has not lost any of her usual spark and enthusiasm, despite facing a daunting medical process that will see her receive lymph node implants to replace those lost years ago during breast cancer treatment.
The long-serving hinterland councillor will fly to Sydney to have her final briefing with the Macquarie University medical team that will undertake the experimental surgery.
"If the implants take, in two years time it'll mean no stockings, no infections and no more antibiotics. It'll be a real coup," an optimistic Cr McKay said.
Cr McKay lost her lymph nodes during surgery for breast cancer around four years ago, and since then has suffered from lymphedema, characterised by fluid build- up in her arms, the constant threat of infection, the need to wear compression bandages and the requirement to take daily medication.
It's a condition that affects around 33% of breast cancer sufferers.
Cr McKay learned about the experimental new implant treatment through a women's magazine article and, realising she had nothing to lose, phoned the university to enquire about being involved.
She underwent a medical assessment in November and found out soon after that she had been accepted into the program.
While she is somewhat daunted by the months ahead, she also regards it as a privilege to be involved in cutting edge research that may not only have benefits for breast cancer sufferers, but also for anyone who may require lymph node replacement.
"I feel very privileged to be a part of this research - it's a great opportunity to contribute back," she said.
"I would appreciate other people knowing that there is hope at the end of the tunnel."
Cr McKay, who is regularly involved in cancer fundraising events, such as the Relay for Life, believed it was great to be given a first-hand understanding where such funds were directed.
"It's early days in the research program, but they're optimistic," she said.
Surgery could be as early as February.