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“I was scared as hell, but didn’t know what of. And when we got the news, my heart just sank.”

Shane Vines and Rachel Kerr.

By SHANE VINES

I’d always wanted to be a dad, so when Rachel told me she was pregnant I felt pure joy. However, life has an obscure way of keeping you on your toes and we had absolutely no idea what was around the corner.

At around 14 weeks, Rachel started to have some bleeding. We were told she had a fibroid on her cervix that was going to mean we wouldn’t be able to deliver naturally. Rachel was upset, but being the dumb, insensitive guy I didn’t really understand her feelings.

The bleeding persisted and doctors decided to do a biopsy to make sure everything was okay.

You know those times in your life when you can remember everything with perfect clarity? That’s what it was like for me while we were waiting for Rachel’s biopsy results. We left the obstetrician and didn’t feel like going home so we went to the local shopping centre for a Slushie. I don’t remember why this was so important.

I was scared as hell, but didn’t know what of. And when we got the news that Rachel had cancer, my heart just sank.

It had taken me so long to find the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, and to be a dad. I couldn’t stop thinking ‘am I going to lose Rachel? Are we going to lose our baby?’.

After all the tests, we had to wait for the oncologist to tell us what our options were. That was the longest seven hours of my life. As soon as I heard the doctor say that Rachel would have to choose between chemo and keeping the baby, I knew what her decision would be. Did I agree with it? No.

I was petrified of losing Rachel, and of having to go home and tell Maison that his mum was going to die. But I told Rachel it was her body and I would support her decision no matter what. We couldn’t know it at the time, but Rachel made the right decision. She’s clever like that.

Rachel began treatment, which would take us to the target delivery date of 35 weeks. Everything was ok until the fifth check-up. Rachel looked at me, I said “the doctor’s outside on his mobile phone. I think we’re in trouble here”. It turned out the tumour had stopped responding to the chemo.

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Shane and Rachel with Hannah, shortly after she was born at 29 weeks.

Rachel would have to deliver at just 29 weeks, and a whole new fear gripped our lives – for our unborn child. But Hannah Louisa Vines came into the world okay, weighing just 2lb 2oz and screaming like a banshee. We sat beside her humidicrib every day, falling more and more in love each moment. Our little miracle became our motivation to keep going when it got tough.

People ask me what the hardest part was, and I’d have to say it was the feeling of helplessness. I am the guy – the fixer. It’s my job to look out for the family. But there was absolutely nothing I could do except be there when I was needed and that didn’t feel like enough. People say they feel sorry for us, but I’ve seen people in the last year who are in a much worse place than we ever were. My heart goes out to them.

Rachel is my hero. I don’t think I ever told her that. I should have. The courage and determination she showed is incredible. She never once complained about how awful or sore she felt, even after the hysterectomy. And of course she is a wonderful and kind mother to Maison and Hannah.

The only thing that’s left to say is a big thank you to all the people who helped us through this difficult time. We’re sharing our story in support of Cancer Council Queensland’s Christmas Appeal, in the hope that by funding research into better treatment options, no family will have to go through what we did.

Donate today at cancerqld.org.au/appeals.

Shane Vines is the fiancé of Rachel Kerr and has been by her side this entire journey.  This article is his story.

Cancer Council Queensland is Queensland’s leading non-government community organisation in cancer control. We are committed to providing all Queenslanders with the best possible chance of preventing, detecting, effectively treating and surviving a cancer diagnosis.

Our vision is for a cancer free Queensland and this year, we will devote more than $9 million to cancer research alone.

With your support, we are creating hope for a cancer free future.

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