In mid-January 2015, I was diagnosed with brain cancer. As you can imagine, this took my family and me by complete shock.
That makes my story a little unusual is that I was completely unaware that I had a brain tumour as I sat in a work meeting on 21 January 2015 with the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation to discuss how the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (where I am the Group Executive Engagement & Advocacy, although currently on sick leave) could partner to raise awareness of brain cancer and funds for Cure Brain Cancer though the strong network of pharmacies across Australia.
The meeting was very productive and resulted in a number of joint initiatives, including an official and active partnership between the Pharmacy Guild and Cure Brain Cancer. The partnership was launched in March 2015 with the Guild’s National President George Tambassis jumping out of a plane and raising $10,000, the Pharmacy Guild and members promoting and participating in Walk4BrainCancer, with more activities planned.
As I sat in this meeting, I was certainly unaware of the malignant glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) I had growing in the occipital lobe of my brain - possibly over the past 8-10 weeks! Nor did I detect, feel or show any real signs or symptoms, except for some slight spacial awareness and being unusually a little flustered with some routine work procedures that I had performed over the 15 years.
So within a matter of a short - and overwhelming - 2 weeks, I had gone from being a brain cancer patron to a brain cancer patient. On 5 February I had surgery in Sydney to remove the rather large tumour, followed by daily radiation therapy for six weeks, plus a daily oral chemotherapy for an initial six weeks then monthly for eight months. My husband Martin and I stayed in Sydney during these weeks and travelled back home most weekends to spend precious time with our three beautiful children, catch up with family and friends and enjoy the beautiful Canberra autumn, weather whilst contemplating what the future held for us all.
Later this month I commence my final round (hopefully!) of chemotherapy treatment. I hope and pray that the surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, a very healthy diet, green smoothies, limiting sugar, processed food and red meat, getting regular exercise, yoga practice and taking relevant complementary supplements will all do their bit to cure me of brain cancer.
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Brain cancer kills more children than any other disease. Our mission is to increase five-year survival from the current 20% to 50% by 2023 by funding vital research for both adults and children.