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"I watched a piece of her die every day." Scott Bond lost his wife Andrea to melanoma.

Scott and his kids spent the New South Wales long weekend down Goulburn way on a farm with friends. There’s no reception, just the serenity of the bush. Just what they needed, as hard as it was to have another first without mum.

It has been 10 months since the Bond family lost Andrea to melanoma.

Every month since her passing last August it’s been bang bang bang. First after first.

In November, it was Andrea and Scott’s wedding anniversary, they’ve been together 28 years.

Andrea and Scott
Andrea and Scott met aged 16 and 18, and only ever had eyes for each other. Image: Supplied.

In December, they struggled their way through Christmas. Scott pulled himself together to turn it on for the kids.

In January, it was mum's birthday. She would have been 44.

February, Archie turned seven and Preston celebrated the big one zero.

Oscar turned 13 in March.

Mother's Day rolled around in April. Of all of the 'bangs' this one was the hardest.

This month, Mackenzie is 16.

Every time there's a breather, another first comes around to unsettle the fort the Bond family has built to protect themselves.

Everyone is dealing with it differently.

Mackenzie is like her dad, she doesn't like to talk about it. The little boys cuddle up to Andrea's dressing gown, it still has remnants of her perfume in its folds. For Scott, the morning coffee he shares with the lilies in the backyard which protect his wife's ashes helps.

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But my god is it tough.

"I start every day in tears and I end every day in tears. That's just the way it is," he told Mamamia.

Andrea and her kids
Andrea and her children. (from left to right) Mackenzie, 15, Preston, 10, Archie, 7, Oscar, 13.

Andrea was selfless, a fighter, a stay-at-home mum, a church goer, a scrapbooker, an ex rock and roll dancing champion, a fitness freak and an incredible rock for her adoring family.

But at the end, she had 100 tumours in her body. Her head, spleen, leg, liver and lungs were riddled with cancer.

Scott will never forget the day they were told. She'd had a scare years before, melanoma on her vulva of all places.

That's when they learnt melanoma doesn't have to be from the sun. But with surgery the threat was removed and forgotten about.

Nearly a decade later, Andrea was rushed to emergency with pain in her side. Gallbladder? Appendicitis? That was the original train of thought.

"Within 36 hours we were being told she had full blown cancer (metastatic melanoma). It was in her liver," Scott said. "Within a week we were told it was terminal, she had three months to live."

"I felt hollow. I didn't know what to say. We both just sat there. It was probably the hardest thing I've ever had to hear, other than going home and breaking my kid's hearts - that was the worst," he told Mamamia.

The Bonds decided they'd be honest with their children from the start. Scott lost his dad and brother as a child, and was told to "go to his room and deal with it". He wouldn't repeat that mistake.

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Thanks to the work of the Melanoma Institute, Andrea was given two and a half more years.

She was treated by Georgina Long. You can meet her here. Post continues after video.

Video by Melanoma Institute

She was sick and it was hard - at one point she was on 68 tablets a day - and the side effects were horrendous. But she was given time to be with her family.

She got to take little Archie to his first day of kindergarten. She proudly watched her eldest son be made School Captain in year six. She got the proposal she deserved (Scott botched it first time round, something he's never lived down) and a second wedding full of 180 people she loved.

From the start she was strong. She wasn't scared of dying. "It is what it is," she told Scott. She was devastated to be leaving her family so soon, but as she tersely yelled at her distraught brothers one night at family dinner: "It's one in three. So would one of you like to take it?" That shut them up.

Emotionally for Scott, now the sole parent of four children, it was a roller coaster.

"I watched a piece of her die every day for two and a half years. That's tough," he said.

"I didn't get the fairytale of living with her for 60-70 years, I didn't get that. But we got so much more than a lot of others did. I got to spend time with my wife like many wouldn't."

Bond wedding
The Bonds second wedding day, two months before Andrea passed. Image: Supplied.
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One of the things he misses the most is showering her. Which he did often in those last few months.

"People think it's a dirty thing but it's not. It wasn't sexual. It was the ultimate for me of being able to care for her. That was me fulfilling my role as her husband and the father of her children. It's what you sign up for," he told Mamamia.

Andrea died aged 43, surrounded by her entire extended family.

"I spoke to her the night before and I told her I love her. Her last words to me were 'I love you.' She went to sleep and didn't wake up," said Scott.

By 11am the next morning, her breathing was heavy. With her boys cuddling her and her family holding her hands, she took her last breath.

"She died peacefully. I was worried she'd suffer. As horrible as it was, for me it was calming to know she wasn't in any more pain. She never told us how much, but she was in a heck of a lot," said Scott.

For the Bonds their Christian faith has been a huge help, they know it's goodbye for now not forever. They've got each other for now, and Scott's realised how resilient his kids are.

"Mum loves you dad," they whisper with their arms wrapped around him when they catch him having a teary moment on the couch. "People don't give kids enough credit," he said.

Scott is adamant that the guardian angels at the Melanoma Institute that gave his wife more time, will one day find a cure.

"They're the best at this in the world," he said. "We just have to keep supporting them."

Scott is sharing Andrea’s story in support of the Melanoma Institute Australia’s tax appeal, to donate now to support life-saving melanoma research to help save the lives of people like Andrea, visit https://donate.melanoma.org.au/tax-appeal/ 

Tags: cancer , family , health , melanoma , news-stories
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