When Luci Mackersey started chemotherapy in February, the mother-of-two had no idea that a global pandemic was about to make her medical journey a little bit tougher.
The 33-year-old began her breast cancer battle just six days after her youngest daughter Ada was welcomed home after being delivered prematurely at the John Hunter Hospital.
The two kilogram bundle was delivered by c-section at just 33 weeks on 5 February after Luci’s doctor urged her to start chemotherapy immediately.
“Yes, it’s been a big year,” Luci said.
The West Wallsend hospitality worker continued her treatments every second week for a four-week period, then every week for three months, at the Calvary Mater Newcastle.
By March, however, the country was in lockdown, with COVID-19 being declared a global pandemic.
Luci was still undergoing treatment, but now husband Tim was not allowed to accompany her to appointments.
“He’d have to drop me off and I’d call when I was ready to be picked up,” Luci said.
“My oncology appointments were done over the phone.”
While the world was forced to adhere to social distancing and regular hand-sanitising, Luci and her family took extra precautions to keep her safe, deferring any unnecessary contact with the “outside world”.
At the entrance to their home there still remains a poster warning visitors that here-in lies an immune-compromised resident.
Three-year-old daughter Zoe had to curtail her own socialising to “keep the virus away from mummy”.
“We cancelled Zoe’s swimming classes and childcare to avoid any extra risk of infections,” Luci said.
“We were just lucky that government support kept her spot at childcare and our mortgage repayments have been deferred too.”
When Luci’s hair began falling out in clumps after her third treatment, she decided to face it head-on.
“I decided to shave it all off,” she said.
“I got the in-laws to come over and we made a night of it.”
Luci has since dyed her hair both pink and then purple, which Zoe says doesn’t faze her.
“I liked mummy with no hair, now she has purple hair and I liked the pink hair too,” she said.
After her chemotherapy finished on 9 July, Luci then began radiation which she completed two months later.
In January, the shy Tamworth-born brunette says she is hoping scans will show her body is cancer-free.
But while her hair is growing back thicker and softer and her lashes and eyebrows are showing again, Luci says the mental scars may take a bit longer to heal.
“At one stage I had a complete mental breakdown,” she said.
A depleted body and peak stress levels became overwhelming for her, forcing Luci to seek out professional help, which she hopes to pursue further in the coming months.
Her husband Tim says he too found this year hard to bear at times. Having exhausted all of his paid and unpaid leave, he is now grateful to return to “normal life”.
“I’m looking forward to getting on with life now,” he said.
“It’s good to be back at work and a bit of routine. I’m proud of the way Luci has got through this.
“You don’t know what to think at the start and you don’t know how you’re going to get through it.
“I don’t know what we would have done without my family.”
Through a GoFundMe page set up by Tim’s sister, as well as raffles and donations, the Mackersey family has $8,000 to help pay for Luci’s treatments.
“My school did a raffle for my mummy,” Zoe said.
“And we did Pink Week for breast cancer awareness. I’m very proud of my mummy, daddy, auntie Sarah and uncle Dan and all our people for helping my mummy to get through her treatment.”