My name is Liz. I’m a 32-year-old mum living in Canberra and recently underwent extensive treatment and surgery from a large, stage IV Thymus cancer.
My father died in 2011 from Liposarcoma, another rare cancer. It affected many of his organs over the years spreading originally from his pectoral muscle, then to his bowel, lower intestines, stomach, lung, adrenal gland, pancreas, blood and brain.
When I was diagnosed with my cancer it was devastating. My whole world came crashing down because I immediately thought of the long journey ahead of me and what my father endured.
I said to the nurse who sat down with me as they told me the news “my daughter is my life” before bursting into tears. Right now, I am feeling a bit emotional writing this as it brings up memories of that day.
Fast forward just over a year and I am lucky. I still have scans every three months to make sure if my cancer comes back it is caught early.
Thymus cancer is extremely rare, however Rare Cancers Australia made sure I didn’t make the journey alone.
To be honest, I am the happiest I have ever been as the support I have received has been overwhelming. I appreciate every cup of coffee even more, every hot shower and waking up early to see the sun rise. I take a little bit more time now to smell daughter’s hair as I give her a big hug and tell her that I love her. I appreciate all the small things in life a lot more. I really value true human connections – relationships are the most important thing to me.
Sure, I worry about my cancer coming back. It is something that I do think about every day if I am being honest, but I don’t let that fear overcome me. What I plan on doing now is as much advocacy as possible to help people with rare cancers in Australia.
My dream is to raise enough funds to one day open an eco-wellness resort with allied health services on the NSW South Coast, an area that has been ravaged by fires so that I can help the community rebuild but most importantly, enable people within the ACT and regional NSW have some much needed respite whilst going through, or completing cancer treatment. The idea is that once established, I could get funding so that when a patient gets a referral from their Oncology team, they can have a mini holiday that is funded through a grant or scheme so that patients can access an affordable getaway alone, or with their families.
I really hope I achieve this dream.
I also want to acknowledge that without the love and support of my husband Mohab, my designated carer, I wouldn’t be so positive and wouldn’t have recovered so well. I do not believe carers get enough recognition, but they truly are instrumental in a rare cancer patient’s journey to recovery and beyond.