Inspiration behind the Ball
The well known saying of "your life can be turned upside down in an instant" is one that I didn't completely comprehend until Mothers Day 2016. A day that should have been spent celebrating the love of my Mother and grandmother and spending time with my own children, turned into a day that changed our family's life ever.
My mother was the fittest most healthiest and active 58yr old that I had ever known. She exercised every day, never smoked or even touched alcohol. You would always be able to find her in the kitchen cooking or in the garden gardening.
Mum showed no real symptoms of being sick. She broke her toe a month or so before Mother's Day and did complain about a bit of numbness rooting from her broken toe- a logical explanation or so we thought. She was tired- but again, she would wake up 3 times a week at 4.30am to make hundreds of muffins for students at the school she worked at- so another understandable excuse also. I never heard her complain of a splitting head ache or major dizziness or any other symptoms that I previous thought that you would flag as a symptom for a brain tumour.
At our Mothers Day breakfast I noticed mum was a little off. Her hair was a mess and when she was walking to the car her handbag kept slipping to the ground. I stopped and looked and her more closely and noticed that half of her face had slightly dropped. After highlighting this to dad he decided to call our family doctor as they were due to fly out to Hong Kong that evening. The doctor suggested mum get checked out at our local ER just in case she had had a minor stoke. The shock that all our family experienced when the doctors stated she had a "mass on the brain" was one of the greatest disbelief.
This "mass on the brain" ended up being a grade 4 glioblastoma. I recall the feeling in my heart when we were given this news. The greatest ache I had experienced in my life. I could actually feel my heart throbbing and my mind kept trying to make logic of what now this all meant. Having to watch my parents and other family members come to terms with this news was also heartbreaking. Every night I would go to sleep hoping that it was just a nightmare and I would wake up and everything would be fine again- but this is now the reality that Mum and our family have to face and accept. Life is fragile. It is unpredictable. Your life truly can be turned upside down in one split instant.
After researching more about brain cancer I was gob smacked to learn about statistics that I had never heard about before. Brain cancer kills more children in Australia than any other disease and more people under 40 than any other cancer. Around 1600 people are diagnosed in Australia annually and approximately 1200 of them die from the disease every year. Mums story therefore is not the only one (see stories for more WA people who are or who have been affected). This means then that EVERY DAY just in Australia, approximately 4 people are being told the news that they have brain cancer also. These statistics are absolutely alarming and disturbing.
The biggest reality check for me whilst dealing with the reality of this disease is the fact the patient after Mum's brain surgery was a 4 year old boy. An innocent young little man who hasn't even experienced the joys life can bring. I cannot begin to comprehend how his parents had to go through let alone what he had to go through himself. It is not fair. It's not fair that so many people are being affected and this needs to change.
I don't see Mum as "fighting" or "battling" cancer. If it was a fight or a battle then it is extremely biased one and in cancers favour. She has not been given a weapon capable to have an even and fair fight. The Cure brain cancer foundation is dedicated to accelerating the development of new treatments to increase the five year survival rate from the current only 20 per cent to 50per cent by 2023. Without funding this research and development of new treatments is impossible. I just want to do whatever I can, to help Cure Brain Cancer foundation create weapons that people can use, to be able to have a fair fight with cancer and triumph.
Rebecca Mae Vella
For more information about Cure Brain Cancer Foundation please visit their website http://www.curebraincancer.org.au/