WARIALDA’S Maddison Rose is on a high after graduating from Tamworth’s junior CMAA Academy of Country Music this week and has a dream of pursuing a career on the stage.
This bubbly optimism is a long way though from two years ago when the then 15-year-old received a cancer diagnosis that placed her life in jeopardy and in her words, forced her to “grow up fast”.
After going to bed one night, the teen said she rolled over and put her arm over her chest, feeling a hard lump in one of her breasts.
Fortunately, she mentioned it to her mum who booked her in to their local GP, who was convinced it was nothing to worry about.
“He said straight away, ‘You’re only 15 so it’s only a cyst’, but he did book me into a clinic to get it checked,” Maddison said.
They were, in fact, cancerous tumours and she received news that no 15-year-old should have to hear.
“I was told if I didn’t have surgery immediately, I wouldn’t have seen that Christmas,” Maddison said.
After her own experience, she is now keen to increase awareness among people her own age, saying at the time of her diagnosis she had no idea someone so young was at risk of breast cancer.
“I thought it was a 40-year-old woman’s disease,” she said.
She also found it incredibly isolating because she knew no one else in a similar position and her friends couldn’t understand just what she was going through.
At last week’s college, where she was tutored along with 20 other 11 to 17-year-olds, she found an ally in performer Tamara Stewart, a passionate breast cancer advocate who fuelled her desire to keep spreading her message.
With the college behind her and her first Tamworth festival before her, she plans to busk down on Peel St and catch up with some of her friends along the way.
The future is now very bright for the talented singer/songwriter, and while she still must have regular check-ups, a few months ago she received the best news of all: an “all-clear” from her doctors.
A huge relief?
Maddison nods slowly and flashes a smile.
“It was big, very big.”