This post was published on Emma’s blog Dear Melanoma in October 2016. At the time, Emma had to make some serious decisions about palliative care. She also sat down with her oncologist and had an honest conversation about how long she has left, which was estimated to be two to three months if her body continued to decline.
Sadly, Emma passed away on the 8th of April 2017. A year on, we’re sharing her words in honour of the incredible person she was and all she achieved in her 25 years of life.
This was her story.
It is hard to believe that it has been three years since I was told that I had Stage 4 Melanoma – terminal cancer.
Within a few short months I had gone from a young woman, diagnosed a year prior with Stage 1 Melanoma, to a 22-year-old with Stage 3 Melanoma, to finally hearing the worst news possible – I was Stage 4.
I was 22 years old and had already explored and worked in some of the most isolated places in the world and with the most exciting future ahead of me, to a 22-year-old stripped of all my hopes and dreams and left to face my mortality.
Many people have a cancer-versary – I don’t because I honestly don’t remember the day I was told the cancer had spread beyond my lymph nodes. I remember my surgeon calling me to tell me that I had to have a liver biopsy and that would be just before my sister’s wedding on the 4th October, so it must be shortly after that, but everything was a blur.
I remember being told that I was no longer a surgical case and would need to meet with an oncologist. Appointments were quickly made and I found myself sitting at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane with the woman responsible for keeping me alive to this day.
One thing I do remember is what the oncologist said to me as I sat down for my consult – ‘oh, you are so young’. I felt like yelling across the room, ‘no shit, Sherlock!’ This remains one of the most frustrating comments anyone can say to me. I very much realise how young I am and how it makes the whole situation even worse. Anyway, I digress… so my relationship with my oncologist didn’t start well, but I can definitely say now that this first meeting has no reflection on the relationship we now have. I am her number 1 fan and I would like to think I am her favourite patient (at least top 5!)