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A monster took Elisha Neave away today. Please help us keep others safe.

 

This is just breathtakingly sad news.

The brave and beautiful 36-year-old mother is dead, and her family left broken by the knowledge that she might still be alive if she’d elected to have preventative surgery years ago.

Elisha Neave has tragically passed away today, the victim of aggressive ovarian cancer. We first introduced you to Elisha and her family last year. Many readers will remember that Elisha was one of three sisters who courageously spoke publicly about their family’s long, devastating history of cancer in the hope that they might save others from the same fate.

The sisters have lost their father to pancreatic cancer, and their grandmother, great grandmother and aunt to breast cancer. And now they have lost Elisha.

In 2007, Elisha and her two older sisters, Chrissy and Veronica, all tested positive for a gene called BRCA2. That’s the gene Angelina Jolie has too, which prompted her to get a mastectomy and very publicly urge other women to do the same. Having the BRCA2 gene indicates a high probability of being diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer in the future. It’s one of the few warnings we have to work with, when it comes to protecting people from cancer.

Having watched their mother survive breast cancer twice before getting terminal bone cancer, Chrissy and Veronica chose to have preventative mastectomies and hysterectomies.

Elisha Neave (left) with her sisters Christine and Veronica in 2013.

Being the youngest sister, Elisha thought she had more time to make a decision. She wanted more children, so she chose to delay her surgeries.

But cancer found Elisha too soon, and now she’s gone.

Elisha was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in early 2013, when her son Jack was just 10-years-old. She spoke to Channel 9 journalist Tara Brown at the time, in a powerful 60 Minutes segment, and we hope what she said might move anyone else with the BRCA2 gene to consider preventative surgery urgently.

When we say it’s what Elisha would have wanted, we mean it. This was an extraordinarily generous woman who wanted her suffering to help other people, even when she knew that her fate would be a terrible one.

Here’s a particularly important part of that interview, from Channel 9:

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TARA BROWN: Unbelievably, the ignorance about how risky this gene is extends to some in the medical profession.  One of Elisha’s earlier doctors, not seen in this story, missed the symptoms of ovarian cancer – her severe bloating, constipation, bowel problems and haemorrhoids despite knowing she carried a genetic time bomb.

ELISHA: I found out the five symptoms on the way to hospital to get my first surgery done. There was a poster on the elevator saying, “Ovarian cancer – if you’re experiencing this, this, this, this, and this, please see your GP about getting tested.” They were the five things I was complaining to my GP about for six weeks and he didn’t pick up on it.

Although ovarian cancer is often called a ‘silent killer’ – because it’s difficult to diagnose – there are a few signs to look out for. The most frequently reported symptoms include abdominal or pelvic pain, persistent abdominal bloating, needing to urinate often or urgently, feeling full after eating a small amount, and bleeding in-between periods or after menopause.

Speaking as the cancer she’d feared all her life took over her body, Elisha said: “My cancer is a very rare, aggressive, smart cancer. Well, I could say that I’m the same.  I’m very rare, aggressive, and smart too.

“There’s some days when you’re just beaten down so much that -that it seems like a monster standing over you.  Those are the days where you really have to grab yourself and just go, “No, I’m – I’m going to – I’m going to beat this monster.”

That monster took Elisha today, and her loving family have shared this message on Facebook for anyone touched by their beloved girl’s story.

The post appeared with this photograph.

Elisha’s funeral will be held this coming Monday, 4 May at 11am. It will be at Mary Immaculate Catholic Church, Edmund Rice Drive, Ashmore.The Neave family say that Elisha had requested “no daggy or sombre clothes or sentiments, rather she wanted colour, happy, fun and glam for her celebration of her life”.

Elisha with her son Jack, before her diagnosis.

The fund that was started to help pay for Elisha’s treatment is now being diverted to support Elisha’s son, Jack. You can make a donation to that fund here.

To Jack, Veronica, Chrissy, and the rest of Elisha’s family, you are in our thoughts and our hearts today. Thank you for touching so many lives.

For more information about breast cancer, please go here. For information on ovarian cancer and its genetic risks, please visit here. And for information about testing for cancer and the BRCA2 gene, go here.

Make informing yourself and doing what you can to stay protected from this horrible disease, your part of respecting and valuing Elisha’s legacy.

You can donate to Pink Hope, the national DGR and Family Cancer Clinic endorsed charity that is focused on hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, by visiting www.pinkhope.org.au. You can also donate to Cancer Australia by visiting www.canceraustralia.gov.au.