A Story of Survival
“Cancer is not a reason for death. I am not scared of cancer anymore.” – Aida Daoues
Aida Daoues, aged 47 at the writing of her story, had been suffering from diahorrea and back pain for some time before her pancreatic cancer diagnosis in December 2016. She consulted a dietitian who wasn’t quite sure what was affecting her and then, later, was diagnosed with chronic anemia. Doctors removed her uterus because they felt something was wrong but it only revealed that she had fibroids. Aida Daoues shares her personal cancer story.
With her energy levels low and her physical health declining her specialist prescribed hydroxychloroquine to help with the symptoms and ordered a full liver function test. In a follow-up call her GP asked if she had noticed any changes in her symptoms. Aida’s answer was enough to send her straight to emergency with jaundice already appearing.
Upon investigation a tumour was found at the head of her pancreas blocking her bile duct, and she then travelled from Orange, New South Wales, to Sydney for a biopsy. Shortly thereafter she received the devastating news that it was cancerous and she was an immediate candidate for Whipples surgery. A stent was inserted in the meantime but that caused another complication – a complete blockage of her gallbladder which resulted in a delay of the surgery and starting chemotherapy (FOLFIRINOX) as an attempt to reduce the size of the tumour.
After four rounds of chemotherapy Aida was advised the tumour was not responding to treatment and Whipples surgery was scheduled which she had in 2017 at the Prince of Wales Hospital. The surgery was successful and just eight weeks later she commenced chemotherapy for another three months. Scans came back clear; her tumour marker was normal. But then in 2019 she noticed some blood in her urine and was diagnosed with another primary cancer – bladder cancer, which she had removed later in the year accompanied by six immunotherapy- BCG injections. However, it was far more serious than what anyone had imagined. In 2021 the follow-up scans showed a growth in the ureter, suspected to be ureteral cancer, and she had surgery to remove the tumour. Aida was also told the heartbreaking news that her pancreatic cancer had metastasised to her left ureter, rectum and pelvic area with perhaps the need for further chemotherapy to manage it, while already surviving life-threatening complications from having her latest tumour removed.
After relocating to Adelaide from New South Wales, Aida felt very alone and spent time online searching for a local support group she could join to share her experience and find support from others. She eventually landed upon Pancare’s Adelaide support team and attended one of its sessions which, after exchanging contact details, had to move to online rather than face-to-face meetings once COVID struck. She attended the online support group and found it worthwhile and embraced it.
“When I hear the stories of others I don’t feel so alone,” she says. “I see what others are dealing with, and some have had harder experiences than mine. I feel for them and I also feel hope. No one understands the situation until you walk in their shoes. When we are together, we talk the same language.
I feel glad that something can still be done for me and that I am not a hopeless case. I can have surgery.“
“I was afraid of chemotherapy but it’s good to see I’m the youngest in the group and that others who are older are still okay after chemotherapy. And one of Pancare’s counsellors, Mira, has been a godsend to me. When I needed someone to talk to she was there for me every week and was simply wonderful. She tried to connect me to others for peer-to-peer support but I’m just not ready for that yet.”
Aida says she has also found the support of Patient Support Manager, Sonia, to be a great resource as well. Sonia suggested that she volunteer at her local cancer care centre which she has thoroughly enjoyed.
However, shortly thereafter Aida’s cancer returned and her focus now has been on taking a break and making the next move to regain her wellness. With the support of her husband, and facing often insurmountable odds, she does carry one long-term goal which is simply this:
“I am going to take a short course and try to start a new career. While I’m an engineer by trade I would love to work at my local library in management and have sent my application to university for an online course. I love reading books and searching for books, plus it’s not a demanding role or too physical.”
We wish you well, Aida, and that your goal becomes a reality. Thanks for sharing your story with us.