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‘Getaway’ host Sam McClymont is grateful for her last-minute decision as she undergoes cancer treatment

"I didn't expect this."
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It was December 2023 and country musician and host of Getaway, Sam McClymont, had a medical appointment with a breast specialist and was wondering whether to attend.

She’d recently been given the all-clear for breast cancer after finding a lump in her right breast, but the appointment was made before that. Now, in the run-up to Christmas, with two young boys, Wilder, 6, and Ari, 5, and a million things to do, could her time be better spent?

“A mammogram and biopsy had just showed I had a non-cancerous tumour in my breast but it was still really sore,” Sam, 38, from Canberra, tells Woman’s Day exclusively.

“I decided to go to see the specialist anyway and see what my options were.” It was a decision that potentially saved her life.

Sam McClymont sitting on a stair case wearing all white
Sam McClymont announced her diagnosis in April. (Image: Woman’s Day)

STEPPING BACK

“As soon as he examined me, he said that he wasn’t comfortable with the lump or the [non cancerous] result I’d had,” Sam remembers.

Another round of tests followed and then nothing. No call. No follow-up. So when Sam went to her next appointment three weeks later, she was expecting another all-clear. At her age breast cancer was not on her radar.

“I hadn’t been asked to bring anyone. My husband Ben was at work,” Sam says.

It meant she was alone when the specialist broke it to her that she had triple negative breast cancer, the most aggressive form.

“I was instantly crying. It was a shock. He was telling me about all the treatments, but I couldn’t believe it,” Sam explains.

“I was bawling when I called Ben and my younger sister Mollie. Then she was crying. Nobody was expecting this.”

BRAVE FOR HER CHILDREN

Sam faced months of chemotherapy, surgery, a possible mastectomy and radiation. Thankfully, more tests showed the cancer hadn’t spread to her lymph nodes. But she knows how fortunate this was given how fast her type of cancer grows and her initial misdiagnosis.

“If my GP hadn’t had the foresight to make that appointment [with the breast specialist] and if I’d decided not to go, then it would have spread,” Sam says.

Her prognosis, however positive, was still serious. And her first challenge was to tell her boys what was happening.

“Wilder thought it was hilarious I was going to be bald, but Ari couldn’t wrap his head around it,” Sam says and, as she struggles through rounds of chemo, it is her youngest who finds it most difficult.

“One morning he said, ‘Mummy are you going to die?’” Sam says. “It was really hard as I could tell how scared he was.”

But as the weeks have gone on, the family has adapted to Mummy not always doing school drop-offs and dinner. And Sam has had to adapt to taking a step back from work.

It’s not possible to travel at the moment, either with her TV show Getaway or her band the McClymonts. So sisters Brooke and Mollie have had to take a back seat.

“That’s been hard as work is a huge part of my identity,” explains Sam, but she’s focusing on the advice of her oncologist who told her, “Give me a year, so you can have 50 more.”

Losing her hair has also been a bitter pill and, before she shaved her head, Sam says she could still pretend she was well.

“I knew once it was gone everyone would know. I needed time to process it before that,” she says. “Eventually I chopped it all off, and then the boys helped me shave it. I was shocked when I looked in the mirror. But I couldn’t be emotional because the boys were there.”

SUPPORT & KINDNESS FOR SAM MCCLYMONT

“This has opened my eyes to what other people are battling.” (Image: Woman’s Day)

A lovely wig from The Beautiful Hair Boutique has helped enormously but Sam says sometimes she needs to be able to sit in her sadness.

“People say, ‘Your hair will grow back,’ or, ‘There’ll be another overseas trip next year.’ It’s like I’m not allowed to feel low. But cancer is really hard and sometimes it’s just OK to feel sad,” she says.

Another thing she’s learned is that everyone has her back, from her parents to her sisters to strangers online.

“I’ve been blown away with the amount of incredible support after I posted my story online. It’s opened my eyes to what other people are battling behind closed doors. I’ve received such kindness and you never forget that. I want to do that for other people in the future.”

For now though it’s one foot in front of the other. Sam’s through 12 of her 16 rounds of chemo. And then there will be surgery and radiation.

“I’m hoping that this is something I’ll look back on and think, ‘Wow, what a year,’” Sam shares. “I hope that we never have to go through anything like it again.”

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