By Alesha Capone
Whether she is jumping out of planes or getting a tattoo, Vicki Bellizzi has been living life to the full since recovering from breast cancer.
The Point Cook mother said that during 2015, when she turned 49, her friend Donna urged her to get a mammogram.
Ms Bellizzi said she had already been thinking of undergoing screening because her sister had been diagnosed with breast cancer, at the age of 39.
Ms Bellizzi’s mammogram revealed she had cancer in both of her breasts.
She said she showed no symptoms of the illness, and was lucky her cancer was diagnosed early on.
“I would just like to encourage people, from my own experience, to get tested,” she said.
Soon after being diagnosed, Ms Bellizzi underwent a 12-hour double mastectomy and reconstruction.
She spent Mother’s Day at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
“My kids came to see me, with tubes hanging out of me – it wouldn’t have been very nice for them, but I was very pleased to see them,” Ms Bellizzi said.
She also underwent three months of chemotherapy, which caused her hair to fall out.
Ms Bellizzi said that as a result, she attended a ‘Look Good, Feel Better’ day hosted by the Cancer Council Victoria, featuring make-up artists and a lady with a Wigs on Wheels service.
“I found a wig I liked and it was great, my kids would say to me, ‘How are you going to do your hair today, Mum?’” Ms Bellizzi said.
Ms Bellizzi said that her best friend from Western Australia, Liz, came to support her during her chemotherapy.
She also wanted to thank her daughters, Jasmine, 17, and Holly, 14, for their support.
Since her recovery, Ms Bellizzi has gone on to raise funds for the Cancer Council Victoria, including organising an event at Altona Bowling Club which raised about $2500.
Afterwards, she and other Cancer Council members were invited to go skydiving.
“It was bloody scary, I was OK until I had to jump out of the thing,” Ms Bellizzi said.
Last year, she and her partner George also participated in a dragon boat training session with The Dragons Abreast crew, a group of breast cancer survivors and supporters.
Ms Bellizzi has returned to work as an operating theatre technician at Western Health and has also gotten a tattoo on her arm, showing a pin-up lady with muscly arms, which reads, “Fight like a girl”.
She said she did not mind the scars from her breast cancer surgery.
“It’s all good, I’ve just got the scars and I don’t care about that,” she said.
“I’ve always said that I’m one of the lucky ones, because I survived.”
Ms Bellizzi has encouraged residents to support the Cancer Council’s upcoming Daffodil Day Appeal, which will culminate in Daffodil Day on August 28.
The Cancer Council Victoria is aiming to raise more than $300,000 for cancer research through online donations, during this year’s appeal.
Details: daffodilday.com.au or 1300 65 65 85.