Sky's patient story


Here is an inspirational account of one woman’s experience of a very rare form of cancer.

Sky’s story

I consider the discovery of my cancer as one of the luckiest days in my life.

It was Australia Day. My 3 month old baby was sleeping beside me and my 3 year old had just crept in to join the slumber party. I rolled over to make room for her. I heard a 'pop' and I could feel and see a definite mass in my stomach. Having just given birth to my 8 pound baby and having been told I had ovarian cysts throughout both pregnancies, I assumed it was something to do with that. However, it was not.

Just over a month later the most amazing surgeon I have ever met removed my mass via keyhole surgery. I delayed my check up because at no point had the word cancer ever been raised. But when I went back a month later with my then 5 month old in tow he told me that it was a funny thing, my mass ... I remember vividly that he then took that swiftly back, following up with : “Actually, it's not funny at all. It is very rare and can be very aggressive. I would like you to follow up with an oncologist and we will take it from there.” What ! ?

Retroperitoneal primary mucinous cystadenocarcinoma with mural nodule of anaplastic carcinoma. These tumors are rare with only ten examples in literature. The prognosis of these lesions is poor. The report was by no means comforting. From there my journey became one of shock more than anything. I was a perfectly healthy 33 year old. There were many tears and many unspoken worries. I worried for my family, my girls, my parents - they wouldn't cope if I wasn't here. All I could think was “Who will make sure my girls get their hair done right when they are at school ? Who will pack their lunches the way they like them ? How do two little girls survive losing their mum before they are 1 and 4 ? Dr Della is a realist. He told me that if it had spread I would be lucky to make the next 6 months. My baby was only 5 months old. My head spun. My heart sank. Why was this happening to me ?

I had a PET scan. The results took about 48 hours but it felt like a lifetime. I made my mum ring twice and follow up. I couldn't breathe ... “It was clear but we want you to start quite an aggressive round of chemo to be safe. We can't guarantee it will help because we don't know enough about it. If you were 83 I wouldn't recommend it but your young body is more likely to bounce back.”

Pictured above (L to R) : Emmilou, Sky and Ruby Medley on Ruby's 1st birthday.

Side effects ? There's a book of them and I don't think there was one I didn't have. The worst part was losing my hair, not because I'm vain but because even when you’re having a good day it is a reminder : 'You’re sick.' 'You have cancer.' 'You could die.' It is a reminder or a red flag to everyone around you too. It's hard. No, it sucks, but I got through it. 

Sky, Ruby, Emmilou  and Gary Medley in a special family scene.

I got through it with the love and support of my families, my two dearest friends, the staff at the Southern Highlands Cancer Centre but mostly because my girls need me for a few more years yet. My 5 year old still has separation issues, always fearing I've just left. And me ... there isn't a day that passes where an ache or a bruise or a feeling doesn't make me worry that it's back. I pine for my 3 monthly check ups. I don't think this will change but life goes on. Today I packed my little girl’s lunch and did the perfect pony tail as I cried, sending her to kindy. Not because I didn't want her to grow up but because I am so very grateful that I got to see it. 

9th February, 2016.

A heartfelt thank you to Sky from Southern Highlands Cancer Connect for sharing this story with us.

Pictured below : Ruby and Sky with Emmilou on her first day of school nearly two years after Sky's surgery.