I'm Annabelle Wilson, Cure Brain Cancer Foundation's Head of Advocacy. I lost my wonderful husband, Josh, to brain cancer in November 2017, just two months before our daughter Primrose was born. I know first-hand the devastating impact brain cancer can have on family.
When Josh died, I was in a whirlwind of shock and exhaustion. I was heavily pregnant. I didn't do a lot of reflecting or bracing. The truth is, I couldn't comprehend what had just happened, and definitely what was coming for me.
A close friend of mine recently told me that she found the second year to be much harder than the first. It was an honesty that most people don't often share, sometimes we are so focused on healing that we forget grief is a marathon, not a sprint.
Looking back on the last 18 months, it has been wonderful overall. I have my dream job helping the brain cancer community, a beautiful home, spectacular friends and family. Of course, the best part has been getting to know my new best friend, little Primrose. There have been lots of laughs and exciting moments in all of these things, and Josh's energy and passion for living the good life has found its way into all of my decisions. And I am proud of that.
It has also, probably unsurprisingly, been the hardest 18 months of my life. There have been countless moments of deep despair. I have apologised to my daughter for not being enough, been cold in my empty bed and felt lonely even when surrounded by people I love. There are no shortcuts in grief, but I have weathered all of it and am still standing tall. And I am proud of that, too.
I try not to think too much about the type of dad that Josh would have been - it makes me too sad. I know he would've been a great dad, of course, but I also know he would've been a wonderful support to me. What I choose to focus on instead are the things that he has provided her and I with, because both of us girls are so lucky to have him as such a huge part of our lives, and I saw that shining out of little Miss Primrose from the moment she was born, on what would have been her Dad’s 32nd birthday.
Brain cancer takes the lives of more people under 40 than any other cancer. So, unfortunately, we are just one of many young families who are living with the realities of this disease. Be it brothers, sisters, children or soulmates. Young people who have just landed their dream job or finally graduated from uni. Young people who have bought their first home, or about to travel around the world, or who have just started their family. It is just unfair. Unacceptable.
A brain cancer diagnosis is devastating. With so few treatment options, clinical trials offer the best hope of improving survival. They may also reduce the harm of existing treatment options, which can have long-term negative impacts.
We need your help to bring quality clinical trials to Australia - and fund promising Australian trials - so patients can access new treatments and drugs as soon as they're available.
On behalf of those living with brain cancer, and in memory of those taken too soon, thank you sincerely.
Head of Advocacy, Cure Brain Cancer Foundation
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