Devoted couple battle brain cancer fight
"THERE is something in your brain."
Those are the life-changing words nobody expects to hear.
In December last year, my fiancee Nadine White and I had our worlds tipped upside down, just days after returning from a four-week holiday in South-East Asia.
Nadine suffered a violent seizure while lying in bed.
She was just 24, and emergency doctors were baffled as to why the seizure occurred. They referred her to undergo tests for epilepsy and were worried she may have contracted an exotic disease overseas.
But a simple CT scan the following day delivered the curveball - a 2.5cm mass was on the right side of her brain.
Within days, she was in theatre undergoing delicate neurosurgery at the Gold Coast University Hospital.
The three-hour operation was a success, removing the entire visible tumour, and we were optimistic life would go back to normal.
But the pathology results delivered by her surgeon days later were far from a Christmas present.
It was a grade-four glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) tumour - the most aggressive form of brain cancer.
Hours of Google searching in the lonely sleepless nights while she was hospitalised meant the surgeon didn't need to explain what this meant.
GBM is a rapidly growing cancer with a high probability of recurrence.
The average time between diagnosis and death for GBM sufferers is just 14 months. Only 5% of patients live beyond five years.
But Nadine has never been one to subscribe to statistics or admit defeat.
Once the wound from the 23 staples in her head healed, she began six weeks of intensive energy-sapping chemo and radiation therapy with daily trips to the hospital.
The fatigue was relentless. The nausea comes when it's least expected and she's lost 6kg.
Our parents, who all live in north Queensland, struggle to cope with the uncertainty of her situation.
Five months following diagnosis, Nadine returned to her job as a foster care case worker and is back playing touch football.
She has four treatments left in her 12-month adjuvant block of chemotherapy. Her age, health and character has seen oncologists double the standard treatment length.
The anxious wait between her quarterly MRI scan and receiving the results is gut-wrenching but the most recent nine-month scan was clear - a win for us, considering the average time for a tumour to recur is seven months.
Nadine will never be told her condition is gone or she is in remission and an hour won't pass where we don't think about the battle she's facing.
Brain cancer kills more Australians under 40 than any other cancer.
It also kills more children than any other disease in this country.
The Cure Brain Cancer Foundation is determined to increase that five-year survival figure to 50% within the next 10 years.
You can donate to Travis and Nadine's fundraising efforts for the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation at walk4braincancer-brisbane.everydayhero.com/au/travis.
- Kindly reproduced courtesy of the Gold Coast Bulletin