Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Brave mother shares her harrowing cancer journey

Deniliquin woman Leanne Rutledge was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer on November 25.

TYLA HARRINGTON December 27, 2013 4:55am

Breast cancer sufferer Leanne Rutledge and daughters Megan and Abbey are thankful for community support, including a Pony Club fundraiser next month.

When New Year’s Eve rolls around next week, Deniliquin’s Leanne Rutledge won’t be thinking about which party she will be at to ring in 2014.

Instead, the mother of three will be preparing for her first round of chemotherapy.

Leanne was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer on November 25, exactly a month before Christmas.

She opted for a double mastectomy just three days after her diagnoses and starts further treatment on January 3.

This week, just one of her Christmas wishes was for women to be very particular about checking their breasts for lumps or abnormalities.

The 35 year-old felt the lump while breast feeding her nine-month old, Chloe.

Suffering from blocked ducts with her two other girls, Leanne thought it was nothing serious.

Medical checks soon revealed she was facing much more of a challenge.

‘‘I went to Shepparton to have the block removed and I found out it wasn’t a blocked duct ... it was stage three breast cancer,’’ she said.

‘‘On November 25 I was diagnosed and on November 29 I had a mastectomy of both my breasts.

‘‘Now I start chemo on January 3 for six months, followed possibly by six weeks radiation.

‘‘I haven’t had a lot of time to process it all.

‘‘It was a Thursday that I went to Shepp to have it checked, on the Monday I was in the doctor’s office and Tuesday I was in Melbourne seeing a surgeon.

‘‘That Friday I had the surgery. But life had to go on ... I had to keep going for the girls.’’


Leanne and her partner Tim Lawson have three children – Abbey, Megan and Chloe.

She said some of her decisions were made for the family as a whole.

‘‘I explained to them (the girls) what was happening and that the chemo will make me sick,’’ she said.

‘‘Kids take so many things in their stride ... it might be because they don’t understand completely.’’

Leanne said the cancer came as a complete shock, saying she has always been ‘‘vigilant’’ in checking for lumps in her breasts.

‘‘It would be better if I had found it earlier, but it could be a lot worse as well,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s important to raise funds for breast cancer charities ... a lot of young people get diagnosed with breast cancer.’’

Since her diagnosis, Leanne said the community support has been overwhelming.

Her step-sister Kylie Calderwood from Lancefield, Victoria and her friend Joy Tebbens have organised a dressage and cross country fundraiser.

All the proceeds raised will be given to the Rutledge/Lawson family and the Breast Cancer Network Association.

The event will be held on January 18 and 19 at the Deniliquin Pony Club grounds.

Kylie said it was an ideal event to be held for Leanne, an ex-pony club member whose oldest daughters are now members.

Kylie has more than 30 years riding experience, is competing medium level EA (Equestrian Australia) and has qualified and ridden at several EA Dressage State Championships.

She will be offering one-hour dressage lessons for two riders at $20 per rider.

Joy is currently competing EA Horse Trials and has acquired success at Pre-Novice level. She has instructed at a number of pony clubs in the Northern Zone.

Her lessons will go for 1 hours for three riders at $20 per rider.

The day is suitable for all ages and riders of all levels and a sausage-sizzle lunch will be provided with a gold coin donation.

To book phone Kylie on 0458161545 or Joy on 0409572103. Payment by January 13 will secure a spot.

Leanne said several other people, some who she wasn’t very close with, have also taken on fundraising.

‘‘Since my diagnosis Paula Rutter has auctioned a breast cancer hat made by Danica Erard, which was purchased at the I Touch Myself auction and re-auctioned and bought by Robyn Lawson,’’ she said.

‘‘The $330 raised will be given to the McGrath Foundation.

‘‘Kasey Collett has organised pink Breast Cancer Network Association’s shoe laces, which are being sold at Baker’s Delight with proceeds given to BCNA and she’s also organised pink bun day for next year.

‘‘I’d like to thank Paula Rutter, Michael Dove from Baker’s Delight for kindly donating 12 months bread and all my family and friends for all their support.

‘‘I’d also like to thank Kylie Calderwood, Joy Tebbens and Kasey Collett.


‘‘Tim has been there for me through it all, and I also thank him for his support.’’

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