Former Olympian Jane Flemming reveals cancer hell

Australian former Olympian and Commonwealth Games champion Jane Flemming has opened up about a terrifying battle with cancer.

The 52-year-old talked exclusively to Woman's Day about the moment her life turned into a nightmare, following a routine appointment with her GP.

"Of course I was thinking the worst," Flemming admitted after first being diagnosed with breast cancer.

"I don't know if I ever thought I was going to die but I just thought the whole association of cancer... I don't know what I was thinking.

"I had a couple of horrendous meltdowns at night in the dark lying there thinking.

"I've never felt so afraid or vulnerable."

Flemming competing for Australia. Pic: Getty

Flemming's ordeal began in early 2017 when she went to see her GP for a pap smear.

After being prescribed a low dose of estrogen and sent for a mammogram, doctors discovered in May that Fleming had a high-grade ductal carcinoma in her left breast.

"I didn't cry - not then," Flemming confessed after receiving the awful news.

Flemming, who won 1990 Commonwealth Games gold medals in heptathlon and long jump, said she even managed to keep her composure after telling husband Ian Purchas the bad news.

"I walked home to clear my head and rang a very good friend and then I burst into tears."

The 52-year-old said staying strong for her nine-year-old twins, James and Samuel, was particularly tough before she was rushed in for surgery.

"I'm sure I was in a state of shock," Flemming said.

"Ian got home later that night and it was fairly emotional but we were very much trying to keep our boys' lives unaffected at this point."

Flemming is an ambassador the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Pic: Getty

The next day Flemming went in for exploratory surgery at Sydney's Royal North Shore Private Hospital.

The two-time Olympian described the two-and-a-half week wait to find out the extent of her cancer as the worst period of her life.

Flemming's worst fears were realised when it became clear a 5cm tumour would have to be removed.

She had three options: to either have a mastectomy, undergo a course of radiation therapy or hormonal treatment, with Flemming opting to have both breasts removed.

"My overriding reasoning behind the decision was that it would give me the greatest chance of it never coming back."

On June 30, Flemming had the double mastectomy and after spending six days in hospital she was told by the surgeon that the operation was a success.

However, less than two weeks later doctors told Flemming that they needed to operate on her again to scrape every cell off the back of her skin.

Four operations later and after 10 weeks of living hell, she was finally given the all clear.

"If I'd left it even for three more months this wouldn't have been a good story."

Flemming, who has been an ambassador for the National Breast Cancer Foundation for 20 years, says she hoped by telling her story, more women would go and get a mammogram.