Marcus Obermeder speaks for the first time about pregnant wife Sally’s cancer diagnosis.

Video by Mamamia

 

Sally Obermeder is a face most Australians would recognise.

The journalist and TV presenter has appeared on Today Tonight, hosted The Daily Edition, has her own blog and e-commerce site as well as the author of several books.

Her husband Marcus is less of a familiar face, preferring to keep things private when it comes to his family.

The pair married in 2001 but their 16 years together hasn’t been without its challenges. In 2011, when Sally was 41 weeks pregnant, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

marcus-obermeder-feature
Image: Instagram

"I was at work in the city quite near to where Sally was having her breast examination when I received a call asking me to come in and pick her up. The voice on the phone was very solemn so I knew immediately that they must have found some convincing evidence of cancer," he told Mamamia.

"My heart sank but at the same time adrenaline kicked in as I knew our lives had just changed forever and that would need to be there for Sally and our unborn baby.

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"The future looked very uncertain and this really shook me to the core but I had to stay strong and step up."

Obermeder immediately commenced regular sessions with a counsellor.

Listen: Kid's entertainer Tina Harris aka Lah Lah talks about how she survived breast cancer and managed family time. Post continues after audio.

"With Sally and other family members now relying on me for emotional support I needed a trained professional who could be there for my emotional needs, someone with experience that could guide me through the uncertainty of what lay ahead," he said.

It's the first time Obermeder has spoken publicly about that time with his family and he's doing so for good reason, as part of the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s Real Men Wear Pink campaign.

Running from June 12 to June 18, the campaign will help NCBF fund breast cancer research focussed on prevention as well as highlighting that the disease isn't a women's only cancer - men can be diagnosed too just as they are affected when females in their lives are diagnosed.


Ten days after their daughter Annabelle was born, Sally was back in the hospital to undergo intensive chemotherapy.

"Realistically, we both thought Sally was going to die and prepared for the worst. This is something very difficult to deal with both at a practical and emotional level," Obermeder said.

"But it brought us closer to our true selves and each other. Death is like a mirror that reflects back to you the truth about who you really are. A friend told me to get my financial affairs in order which I thought was good advice as it meant that we could then just focus on each other."

However the trying time also brought the family closer together.

the way social media can connect us never fails to amaze me. i was up doing a middle of the night feed and as i often do to help me stay awake, i was scrolling through instagram. minutes later i got an email from the amazing Anne Geddes who was in NY and who i haven’t seen in a few years. It was so good to immediately pick up where we left off - Anne: ”how’s Annabelle” … “what’s she like” …”how’s she finding school” Me: how’s New York” … ”I’m sooo jealous” hahaha i was lucky enough to have Anne take a picture of Annabelle and I, when Annabelle was about 3 months old. I was so sick and struggling under the trauma of chemo but Anne and her team made us feel totally enveloped in love and for a brief moment i forgot i was sick. Anne wrapped Annabelle and i up in this really fine gold thread and i held Annabelle really close and she captured the love, but also the sadness in my eyes. For a long time i only saw the sadness, but a few months ago when we moved and i packed it up i looked at it somehow with fresh eyes and all i could see was us in a tight bond inside the web that life had spun for us. So as i sit here, feeding and reminiscing, I look back with gratitude for the experience and for putting someone as kind, compassionate and as incredible as Anne in my path. If you can be an Anne to someone who needs it, do it. The world needs more Anne’s. ❤️❤️To my love, Sarah who arranged for this Anne gift, i have never forgotten.

A post shared by SALLY OBERMEDER (@sallyobermeder) on

"Our daughter was born under trying conditions with a scowl on her face. Things were tough for her from the start, particularly the limited time she could spend with her mother. However, we all made a special effort to be there for Annabelle so that she wouldn't grow up with feelings of abandonment or neglect," he said.

"Sally was amazing and did the best she could. I am very close to our daughter, she has a great relationship with Sally's mother and her sister too."

The relationship between the couple changed too.

"Sally and I grew a lot closer through this experience. We shared our deepest thoughts and emotions in a way not otherwise possible," he said.

???????????????? great night with these monkeys....????????

A post shared by SALLY OBERMEDER (@sallyobermeder) on

"Although most of Sally's time was spent now being sick and in attempted remedial therapies, we actually shared more quality time together than before. We were very much in sync even though the prognosis seemed negative."

Being honest with yourself and each other about the situation is key to maintaining hope and motivation, he says.
"Any tactics to prop yourself up can potentially just be a drain on valuable energy. You have to let go and understand that the future is uncertain and out of your control.

"This said, although we knew Sally may die and accepted this, we chose to live as if she would be a survivor."

After two mastectomies and reconstructive surgery, Obermeder was given the all clear in 2012. The couple now have two children - Annabel, five and Elyssa, who they welcomed through surrogacy.

It's positive days ahead but there's still lessons learned from that time that the family keep in mind.

"Through Sally's journey we learnt that life is short at best so you really want to be sure about how to spend the limited time you have and with whom. To us family is most important and we really appreciated the quality time we were able to spend together during this ordeal," Obermeder says.

"It also made us realise the simple things in life matter most. We picture a future where we are old, strolling happily down the street holding hands, whilst enjoying an ice cream together.

"We reflect on life, family, kids and grandkids and appreciate the chance we had to know love in its many forms. And we are filled with a universal gratitude that leaves us deeply and eternally satisfied."

Through the Real Men Wear Pink campaign, NBCF hopes to raise more than $1.5 million through community support, to fund breast cancer research. Register to fundraise via realmenwearpink.org.au.

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