A bond like no other, Mackay family’s cancer battle
WITH almost no family history of cancer, Mybritt Carlton didn't think anything could be wrong when she felt a lump in her breast.
Surely it would be too much of a coincidence - just six months earlier, her 18-year-old daughter Bethany Carlton had been diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcama, a rare form of breast cancer.
But to put her mind at ease, Mybritt went along to the doctor who looked after her daughter.
"He had a feel, and he said 'this doesn't tick any of the boxes, but because of Bethany we'll send you off for an ultrasound'," she said.
In August Mybritt was found to have stage three invasive ductal carcinoma, a common type of breast cancer.
The mother and daughter, who live together in Andergrove, will now face the draining process of chemotherapy in each other's company.
Bethany has had to undergo weekly chemotherapy since May, and the process won't finish until February next year.
Every three weeks the treatment is particularly intensive, and leaves her almost unable to do anything.
"She sleeps probably 20 out of 24 hours a day," Mybritt said.
It's been a painful experience for a mother to watch.
"She came home one Sunday night from her big chemo in Brisbane, and she sat in that chair and she broke down and said 'I can't do this anymore,'" Mybritt said.
"That's gut-wrenching… every Tuesday she's got to look forward to 'I'm going to go and get sick today'."
When Bethany is sick and exhausted, she relies on her mother for cooking, cleaning and help.
Things will get harder when Mybritt starts her treatment, at a date yet to be confirmed.
"It's going to be interesting, but we've got some seriously good support," Mybritt said.
Bethany and Mybritt are close, and their natural ease and openness with each other has helped them through the journey.
"We've always been close, there's not a lot we don't talk about," Mybritt said.
"If anything we're going to annoy each other, having to be together for so long," Bethany added with a laugh.
And she's always got her mother to help her through.
"If she starts to go downhill, and I feel that she's not happy, then I just hit her with everything I've got to pull her out of it," Mybritt said.
The pair has plans to adopt a dog for company throughout the process.
"We want a sick dog, so we can all be sick together," Mybritt said.
Bethany's outlook is remarkably positive for a woman diagnosed with cancer straight out of high school.
"I don't see this as a bad thing. My whole outlook on it has been that it's a life experience," she said.
"I'm appreciative of it, because I've matured more in the past six months than I have in the past 18 years."
You can help
Now the pair is unable to work, Mybritt's friend has launched a page where people can donate funds for their day-to-day expenses. Visit http://www.giveforward.com and search 'Bethany Carlton' or 'Bri Larsen' to find the page.
Bethany keeps her friends and family up to date with a Facebook page called 'The Curious Case of an Unpronounceable and Rather Difficult to Spell Tumour'.