Undefeated Australian strawweight Meg Gallagher had just turned pro last year and was looking at a bright future in MMA with two straight wins. Coming into 2013, she is now taking on her biggest fight outside the cage. Gallagher has been diagnosed with breast cancer this past January.
“I came across a lump by chance,” Gallagher told us. “I’m diligent about my downstairs lady health and go for my regular pap tests (something I implore all women to do!), but breast cancer honestly never occurred to me, especially at my age.”
“I didn’t stuff around from that point, and booked an appointment with my GP straight away. She didn’t seem too concerned, but sent me to a specialist to get it checked – who didn’t seem concerned either. I was sent for a second ultrasound, a biopsy and a mammogram and was diagnosed two days later, on January 23.”
The idea of having breast cancer at such a young age is rare, with only 6% of women diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia being under the age of 40. Even in a young, healthy and fit woman like Gallagher, the treatment has complications, including infertility.
In terms of prognosis and a timeline for recovery, there are still unanswered questions.
“I haven’t been told what ‘stage’ my cancer is at, but the tumor is nearly half of my right breast, with possibly cancer elsewhere in the breast. This means I’ll be having a mastectomy. I am also awaiting a genetic test to determine if I carry a gene fault that has contributed, which will assist in making a decision to have either a single or a double mastectomy (one or both breasts removed).”
“I’m looking, at this stage it’s unconfirmed, at six months of chemotherapy, possibly radiotherapy also. After approximately four weeks to let my body heal from chemo will come the mastectomy and removal of any further lymph nodes (I had my sentinel nodes removed today). At that time I’ll have a reconstruction, to be followed by breast implants – I’ve been told I don’t have enough body fat to make new boobs from my own tissues! Haha. After that heals, who knows?”
She is optimistic, however, about getting back into the cage. She knows that it will be an uphill battle.
“I’ll have to get fit again and it will feel like I’m starting everything from scratch. I will have a lot of work to do before I get back in the cage, but that’s okay. Hopefully early 2014 (I will return to the cage).”
“When this is all done and dusted, I plan to take on anyone between me and the UFC… I hope Dana gets some smaller girls in the Octagon by then, otherwise I’ll just have to try and convince him!”
If there is one lesson that Gallagher wishes to tell everyone about her experience with cancer…
“I am hoping to raise awareness not only for breast cancer, or breast cancer in young women, but just cancer in general. Men, check your junk and have your prostate checked! It’s uncomfortable for a couple of minutes, but it could save your bloody life. Man up and think about what you have to potentially lose. Girls, pap tests! And check your boobs! Or even have your partner check them for you… they might know them better than you do haha. Whatever your method, please take care of yourselves.”
A vegan food booth is being set up at the Break the Ice Festival in Melbourne, Australia April 27-28, as well as several other fundraisers to help with the costs of treatment and the hardships behind it. Donations are being accept via paypal – e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I would like to thank everyone for the OVERWHELMING support,” Gallagher added. “I honestly cannot express how appreciative I am. I am truly eternally grateful. Jelena, for organizing the Food Fight fundraiser; Melbourne hardcore for supporting, as always, and proving that we are a strong and supportive scene until death; my KIMEKAI FAMILY (Nick ‘Banjo’ Patterson and Ed, especially) – truly my brothers and sisters forever; my friends and family, without whom I would not have become the woman I am today, able to fight anything life throws at me; and last but certainly not least, every single person who has messaged me, made a donation, sent a kind word or even shared the cause.”