With her cheerful outlook on life, Kimberley O’Connor has brought comfort to ­patients with cancer. But it came as a blow when she was diagnosed herself.
With her cheerful outlook on life, Kimberley O’Connor has brought comfort to ­patients with cancer. But it came as a blow when she was diagnosed herself.

Oncology nurse’s shock cancer diagnosis

Oncology nurse Kimberley O'Connor is used to bringing comfort to ­patients diagnosed with cancer with her cheery outlook on life.

But her own diagnosis of breast cancer came as a huge blow in October last year.

"I had just turned 27 and the plan was 14 months of treatment. I burst into tears. Life was looking very different to how I thought it was going to be," Ms O'Connor said.

But, after receiving the shock diagnosis, McGrath nurse Kim Wright stepped in as a carer, therapist, social worker and friend in one caring package.

"Kim offered advice and tissues. I made a joke that it looked like I had been to the Easter Show after we'd finished that day, I was carrying bags full of things - brochures, pamphlets and scans," she said.

Oncology nurse Kimberley O’Connor had to postpone her wedding twice after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Picture: Gaye Gerard
Oncology nurse Kimberley O’Connor had to postpone her wedding twice after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Picture: Gaye Gerard

The soon-to-be bride, who was forced to cancel her wedding because of COVID-19, has had to postpone her second date while she undergoes chemotherapy.

"When I told my family about my diagnosis, I said: 'Yes, it sucks but I'm going to be fine, no crying'. We made a joke out of it that if you cry that's 10 burpees," Ms O'Connor said.

"One day I heard mum sniffling in the kitchen with dad and yelled out: 'Can I hear 10 burpees in there?'

"I'm trying to make light of the situation, I don't think anyone's done any burpees, but once everyone got over the initial jokes we could move on."

Kimberley and fiance Dylan Nigro have had to postpone their wedding for a second time. Picture: Gaye Gerard
Kimberley and fiance Dylan Nigro have had to postpone their wedding for a second time. Picture: Gaye Gerard

There are 154 McGrath breast care nurses nationally. McGrath breast care nurses have a postgraduate qualification in breast care nursing or cancer nursing.

Ms Wright, who has spent a decade as a McGrath nurse, said: "You meet lots of people and they are always very appreciative of the support we provide for them.

"It feels good to be able to guide people through surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, it can be a very scary time because it's the unknown."

McGrath nurse Kim Wright has been supporting the couple. Picture: Gaye Gerard
McGrath nurse Kim Wright has been supporting the couple. Picture: Gaye Gerard

Ahead of the first toss at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday, cricket legend and McGrath Foundation co-founder Glenn McGrath said support networks for breast cancer sufferers were vital.

"We know that breast cancer doesn't stop - even in a pandemic - but importantly, neither do our incredible McGrath Breast Care Nurses," he said.

"The McGrath Foundation wants to keep the 'Pink' in the Pink Test, because Pink is more than a colour.

"It's the energy, the hope and the support that comes from going Pink that makes a difference to people with breast cancer, like Kimberley and her family."

The Jane McGrath Day turns the SCG Pink every January, with Day 3 of the Pink Test traditionally reserved for raising funds and awareness for cancer.

Originally published as Oncology nurse's shock cancer diagnosis


Junior citizen of the year turns negatives into positives

Premium Content Junior citizen of the year turns negatives into positives

From kicking goals on the football field to raising money for the Cancer Council...

Deb Frecklington demands answers over new hospital flooding

Premium Content Deb Frecklington demands answers over new hospital flooding

Reports major flooding occurred at Kingaroy’s brand new hospital facility have led...

Car fire, theft makes for busy Aus Day for Kingaroy cops

Premium Content Car fire, theft makes for busy Aus Day for Kingaroy cops

From a vehicle fire to a stolen car, this is what Kingaroy police dealt with on...