By SARAH MAMALAI
Can you imagine being told you only had as few as 84 days left with your husband and young kids?
How do you tell your 4-year old and 18 month-old sons that their mum is very sick? Do you tell them she might die? What do you say?
What do you and your husband say to each other about the loss of your shared dreams for the future of your little family? How do you tell your parents that their daughter is dying?
And how can so many enormous questions come into your mind in mere seconds?
I had no answers. I had never let myself worry about the many huge and devastating things that could happen. Until they happened to me.
My name is Sarah Mamalai. In 2007, when I was 33 years old, I was told I had a highly malignant, highly aggressive brain tumour and that I needed surgery immediately.
“Pardon..?! What does that mean? Did you just tell me there is a huge tumour in my head? I need brain surgery – What?!”
The seriousness of this news did not hit us straight away, I even joked to my sister that I’d grown an egg. She is a nurse and knew straight away that this news was very serious indeed. She knew she could lose her sister.
I had brain cancer.
The very sound of those two words combined was horrifying. ‘Brain’ and ‘cancer’ – a cancer in my brain, the part of the body that makes me me, that holds my memories, my thoughts, my fears, how I feel, and all the history behind those feelings. My brain holds my dreams and the very essence of me.
The essence of me then was very different to the essence of me today. Brain cancer changed me in ways I could never imagine.
We were told brain cancer is incurable and almost always fatal. The longest I could hope to survive was 18 months. At worst I may only have three months left to live. What was glaringly absent was any sense of HOPE.
As you’ve read the start of my story, it would be hard to imagine how it could bring positive change, but it has…
In four weeks time, I will be standing on the stage at the end of an incredible event I created called Brainstorm for a Cure – a HUGE event that has raised funds towards Dr Charlie Teo’s goal of a cure to brain cancer within ten years. He is the event Patron.
The hundreds of people leaving this ‘Party with a Purpose’ have had a great party, laughed, cried and danced the night away to Australia’s newest pop sensation Timomatic! They are also leaving with a new awareness of the terrible impact of brain cancer and a desire to help the cause. I imagine I will be feeling quite drunk – a very happy drunk, with a sense of pride and relief that we’ve pulled this off!
How did this come to pass?! Quite simply, it is a miracle.
The miracle is that I am still here to do it. I defied the odds and am in the tiny 5% of long-term survivors. Brainstorm for a Cure is being held on 8 February 8th 2014, my 40th birthday, six years longer than I was told I would live.
What I could never imagine at the beginning, was that it would be my own story that would give brain cancer patients and their families that much needed HOPE, a sense that the future may be brighter.
I have learned a lot about my disease in the last six years, and the ripples of devastation it creates for not just patients but all those who love them.
Brain cancer steals people, I have seen it happen and it’s indescribably sad. It has stolen ALL of the fellow patients and friends I knew. From a group of five, I am the only one left. It was my intense grief following their deaths that triggered the creation of Brainstorm for a Cure.
I know I will also feel a sense of loss at the event. One of the friends was a 15-year-old girl called Dainere. We had a truly unique bond. We not only shared the same disease, we shared the same birthday! Brainstorm was to be a joint celebration of our survival against the odds – my 40th and her 16th, but she won’t be there now, she died in June.
I will feel her absence intensely, but she was my ‘soul sista’ and I know she’ll be there with me in spirit. This event needs to happen as I’ve described, but I need your help to make this vision a reality.
An event of this scale requires money. We need to have raised at least $20,000 in donations and sponsorship in the next two weeks for Brainstorm for a Cure to be financially viable – or we’ll be facing the very real prospect of the event being cancelled. Please don’t let that happen.
What Brainstorm for a Cure needs now is another miracle! Please hop on to www.brainstormforacure.com.au and see how easy we’ve made it for people to help, wherever they live….
“There is no such thing as false hope, there is only hope.”