After going through 8 months of chemo, and a 5 hour life and limb saving surgery it is amazing to be able to be back doing more normal things. I still face regular check ups, and have only recently finished tougher rehabilitation, but in no way have, or will I, let that stop me from trying to do and achieve what I really want.
Let’s start with school and Uni. I successfully completed my final year of school with a highly sought after OP 8, despite many people suggesting I, a) repeat year 11, and b) to go down the path of getting a Rank instead. This year I am starting my Bachelor of Wildlife Science and hope to end up in conservation work. I have experienced a lot of times when I really had to push for what I wanted, and I’ve learned that if I know I can achieve something, I should push and achieve it.
Prior to the cancer, I was a very avid rower. It was truly heartbreaking and difficult when I was told I might not be able to row again, but being the persistent and slightly stubborn person I am, I refused to take that as a never. As soon as I was able to, I worked at regaining my strength and bend in my knee. So, in my final year of school I once again competed in the BSRA competition as part of a crew who came first at the Head of the River Regatta. But it is honestly just amazing to be back on the water. Despite the cold mornings of training, being on the water is one of the most important things to me, and brings me so much joy.
I have also found out that I like having a voice. I am now part of the Queensland Youth Cancer Advisory Group. In this group I, and several others, advise Queensland Youth Cancer Service on health service planning, delivery, evaluation education and training, together with developing spaces and facilities for young patients and their families. We talk and discuss with people who are looking to improve their services. I am basically a voice trying to make another young person’s cancer journey or experience, just that little bit better, and a little bit easier. I feel this is really good and important.
After my cancer experience, I realised that I have to step into life, find ways of doing things, and never give up on my dreams. I can no longer ski, so I learnt and continue to learn how to snowboard, and even when on my Year 12 Snowy trip in September 2018.
I have done a range of things both in my normal life and my cancer life. Normal: I travelled to London and Finland with my family, I was a Bridesmaid at my sister’s wedding, and I became a Volunteer at Australia Zoo. Cancer: I presented at and sat on a panel of people at a Medical Conference. I have attended Bissy4Ward and Warf4Ward hosted Sony You Can Foundation.
But I’ve also lost two friends to Sarcoma and everyday I’m concerned I’ll lose another so in my life of remission I fight not just for myself but for them. I hope to be in that too small percent that survive so that I can live not just for myself but for them.
That is why I am now an Ambassador of the CRBF and hope that I can help find a way and be voice to make those percentages bigger.
I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in my left femur on 29th of February 2016 I was 16 years old. For two months, I was misdiagnosed, I was firstly told I had a torn hamstring then I was told I had torn my ACL. Finally, after two months of horrific pain I finally received the scans we had been asking for. I was walking on a completely broken femur for two months and not even realising.
Being told you have cancer at the age of 16 is an absolute nightmare sitting in the doctor’s room and to hear those words shattered my heart into a million pieces my world was taken from me within a blink of an eye. At the age of 16 you’re just going into year 11 working out if you want to go to university and what you want to do for the rest of your life. Well not for kids like cooper and I for us it was being in a room with chemotherapy running feeling sick struggling to keep any food or drink down barely being able to have a shower and go to the toilets on certain days.
Crying in your bed just wishing for the pain and sickness you feel in your stomach for days on end to just go away. And on your good days spending it in your bed just watching television and enjoying not staring at those same 4 walls in your hospital room and having the company of your family and pets around.
Throughout my journey I struggled with seeing everyone around me move on with their life and mine just stood still. I wasn’t normal compared to all my friends. I lost many other cancer patients that I met throughout my journey and I felt so guilty to still be here without them. They became my family we understood what each other were going through. Many of my friends couldn’t deal with me being sick so they stopped speaking to me and would ignore me. I never held a grudge everyone deals with an illness in different ways.
I just started to focus on myself and my health. My health was the most important thing while going through treatment. My family and my best friend were my rock I have the most amazing positive support group I’m so blessed to have such an amazing group of people whom support me.
Still ’til this day whenever I get any ache or pain in my body I always think the worst. Each day I always have a moment during the day that I think about my journey I still struggle everyday with what I’ve been through and how many people I’ve lost. Every day I just tell myself I’m a fighter and to be positive and take every day as it comes. Mum always said to me every day while I was battling cancer take it one day at a time and till this day it is exactly what I do.
Now two years in remission my life couldn’t be more amazing I just live each moment like it’s the last. The past 6 months we had some ups and downs my oncologist thought my cancer had come back and to hear it hadn’t was music to my ears I pray every day my cancer never comes back in the future.
I’m completely over the moon, I’ve had the honour to become an ambassador of the Cooper Rice-Brading Foundation to be asked has made my heart so full I feel so privileged to be a part of such an amazing foundation there is nothing else I would rather do.
It’s time to raise awareness for Sarcoma we can do it together we can save someone else’s life and we will.