Kathleen Towers’ 60th birthday became memorable for all the wrong reasons when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
“I had always enjoyed good health apart from the usual everyday ailments that people suffer from time to time,” she said, “but after I turned 59, things started to go wrong”.
In the months before her birthday, Kathleen was diagnosed with a persistent dry cough, a bladder infection, irritable bowel syndrome and a hernia—although scans showed this wasn’t the case.
“My finger and toenails turned black and started to drop off and I suffered from a shortage of breath, which sometimes required a trip to hospital,” she said.
One morning, Kathleen’s stomach pain was so intense her husband took her to their local emergency department, where doctors suspected ovarian cancer.
A scan confirmed the worst—Kathleen’s cancer was advanced. She was immediately referred to Mater Hospital Brisbane for treatment.
Kathleen’s story is just one of thousands. For a staggering 1400 Australian women, 2016 will forever be marked as “the year I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer”.
Even more disturbingly: two thirds of these women will ultimately die from the disease. It’s a horrifying statistic that has not changed in 15 years.
It’s time we put an end to this.
The official Tea for Teal date is Friday the 27th of May, but don’t worry if you can’t host on that date, you can still host your tea any time in May or June.
How you host your Tea for Teal is completely up to you. Whether you prefer a fancy high tea with the girls, or a family and friends get together over biscuits and cake, your Tea for Teal will be about so much more than just putting the kettle on.
Funds raised will go straight to Mater Research, where the dedicated Mater Ovarian Cancer Research Collaborative are already conducting research to increase early diagnoses and raise survival rates.
Kathleen was among the many whose lives have been changed by this treatment.
“On the morning of my 60th birthday, the wonderful people at the Mater began the process of saving my life,” Kathleen said.
Like many cancer patients, Kathleen discovered it’s a hard road back to health—starting with surgery and six rounds of chemotherapy to shrink her tumour before a second round of surgery and chemotherapy.
“Chemotherapy was something that other people had; I knew nothing about it but I soon found out that it is not a lot of fun. After each session I’d have a few days of severe pain and vomiting, but then I’d have two lovely weeks of peace until the next session spoilt everything again,” she said.
“I lost all of my hair, but my daughter quickly organised a selection of pretty headscarves and jaunty caps.
“My second surgery was a success so I didn’t even mind having more chemotherapy because the end of the journey was in sight,” Kathleen said.
But sadly, Kathleen’s battle with ovarian cancer wasn’t over.
“After 18 months of freedom, I had resumed my normal life when there were signs that the disease was returning.”
A PET scan confirmed the worst.
“I was back for more chemo… and a new selection of hats!”
Now 10 years on from her first diagnosis, Kathleen has replaced her birthday with ‘canc-iversaries’ and she recently celebrated five years of being ‘cancer-free’.
“I’m living a good life; I’m not sick and I’m not on any medication, but I still see
Dr Catherine Shannon at Mater each year for a check-up.”
By signing up for a Tea for Teal today, you help can give more women like Kathleen a more hopeful future, with better chances of diagnosis and treatment.
You may even be saving the life of someone you love.
Can’t hold your Tea for Teal on Friday the 27th of May? Don’t worry, you can still hold your tea any time during May or June. To find out more, call Jackie North on 1800 440 155 or follow the links below.
This post is sponsored by the Mater Foundation and written in collaboration with Starts at 60. For more information, please visit the Tea for Teal website.