A cancer diagnosis is devastating.
I got mine on a busy afternoon just before I had to pick my daughter up from a birthday party.
Before the diagnosis, I felt fit – but then I developed a persistent cough.
I was sent for an x-ray, then a CAT scan. The GP said it looked like lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph nodes.
I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me. How was I going to tell my children? Freya was 10 and Gordon was 7.
A PET scan revealed that my body was riddled with cancer. I had tumours throughout my torso, my spleen had doubled in size and the cancer was in my bone marrow. Within days, I was admitted to hospital to start chemotherapy.
I asked the oncologist how to tell the kids and she told me not to lie to them.
I found lots of useful resources but I wanted a picture book I could read with my kids to help them prepare. I couldn’t find one – so I wrote one.
I wrote Mum’s Purple Scarf to help other parents in the same situation I had been in.
It aims to help primary school-aged children learn what to expect when a parent is being treated for cancer.
It is about Mum being tired, visits to hospital, and having to do more to help around the house.
My friend, Janet, illustrated the book and the artwork is beautiful – lightening the tone of a difficult topic.
My treatment journey was long and hard. I had six rounds of chemotherapy and immunotherapy and when it didn’t work, I underwent an autologous stem cell transplant.
I lost my hair, twice, and had dozens of trips to the Olivia Newton John Cancer and Wellness Centre. I was nearly destroyed and then rebuilt.
Through it all, I found kindness everywhere. School mums dropped off food, friends did the school run, my mother flew over from Tasmania to help and my husband, Scott, took over the job of managing our family.
Two years on, if feels like I have woken from a nightmare. I wanted something good to come out of my experience and this book aims to help other parents who face a cancer journey.