Normally at Christmas time Sue and husband Adam would alternate celebrations, spending Christmas with different sides of the family each year, but in 2018, they decided to do something different and special and go to Fiji as we thought it may be one of the last times, we would be able to travel as a whole family together as the kids were now young adults. They had a beautiful time.
Not long after getting back, Sue felt very unwell. Despite numerous blood tests and visits to the local GPs to see what was wrong, no definite diagnosis was forthcoming, despite the doctors thinking it could be hepatitis due to the trip to Fiji. She had Jaundice quite badly and was very itchy. Eventually Adam convinced Sue to see a specialist in Perth. Within 10-15 mins of talking with the specialist, he stated that Sue had a major problem. That evening Sue underwent a procedure to put a stent in her bile duct, during the procedure they found a cancerous tumour on her pancreas.
Sue’s much loved husband Adam shares the story of her diagnosis, and her journey with pancreatic cancer, which sadly came to an end when she passed away peacefully at home on March 28, 2021 at age 56.
“Our daughters 21st was around the corner, but we didn’t want to spoil the evening so didn’t tell her and boys of her Cancer diagnosis until afterwards which was extremely difficult thing to do. Sue underwent the Whipple procedure the following week, which went for about 12 hours as they had a few complications. She spent several days in hospital recovering from this ordeal. She seemed to recover well after this operation, to the stage her oncologist felt she was strong enough to start chemotherapy. Prior her starting we went to SE Qld for a couple of enjoyable relaxing weeks seeing a couple of friends and time to ourselves.
When we got back, she started her Chemotherapy treatment.She was advised to exercise as this was shown to have a positive effect during the treatment, which she tried to maintain during the whole process. In hindsight she may have started the chemotherapy to soon as it was only a few months after having the Whipple procedure. Watching someone go through this was cruel. Seeing the damaging effects on her body was devastating. Several times she ended back up in hospital due to her platelets & blood cell count crashing and they needed to monitor and give her top ups to keep her going. Eventually her oncologist said enough is enough, her body was not coping, and it would be best to stop and see how she recovered and if there were signs of cancer re-emergence, through regular blood tests and scans.
Approx. 7 months later, as we were planning to go to France to watch our daughter compete in the world 1/2 IM Triathlon championships in Nice, France, in Sept 19, we got the terrible news that the cancer had re-emerged in the Liver, and she was given a short time to live. We decided to go ahead with the trip, which was a blessing in disguise because it was an amazing 3 weeks seeing some of the sights in France and Switzerland, going paragliding, hang gliding plus watching our daughter compete. For some strange reason, the cancer did not spread as expected. Her oncologist didn’t understand this and investigated alternative types of treatment, which included a Specific Targeted Radiation of the Liver (SIRT), which she underwent in Late Nov 2019. In early Jan 2020 she and our twin boys went to NZ for 3 weeks, which is something she and the boys cherished. Even though she wasn’t very well, she managed, and amazed the boys at the strength she showed, going tandem parachuting, mountain bike riding, etc.
Dec 9, 2020 was our 25th Wedding Anniversary, so I arranged for us to go back to where we spent our Honeymoon, at “Che Sara Sara” Chalets in Walpole. Despite Sue struggling we managed to have a nice couple of days.
Throughout the remainder of 2020, gradually her body started to fail her, despite all her efforts to defeat it, the cancer came back, and she passed away at home on March 28, 2021 at age 56, after being under home palliative care last few months, which allowed her the grace and dignity, being in her own surroundings and with family by her side, sharing some very valuable time with her, allowing her to pass peacefully, knowing she was deeply loved and will be sorely missed by family and friends.
Sue had this amazing bubbly personality, whereby she always made you feel welcome, despite how much pain she was in, with her natural warm smile and caring nature. The palliative care nurses were amazed how she would always give them one of her gorgeous smiles when they came to treat her. She was also a very strong and determined person, which shone through when she found the strength to go to Perth in Feb, despite being very ill, to go to our sons University Graduation ceremony, and 2 weeks later to her best friend’s daughter’s wedding.
Sue became actively involved in the Pancare fundraising activities “Walk for Hope- Perth 2019” and “Unite for Hope – 2020”, whereby she encouraged Family and friends to be involved, donate and spread the awareness of Pancreatic Cancer. This is something as a family we will endeavour to keep supporting, so that hopefully progress is made to stop this terrible cancer. She was also very thankful for the support of Solaris Cancer Care & Dot’s place.
Even though her life was cut short, Sue believed she was fortunate as she accomplished a lot in her life, with her stating that being a mother to 3 being her greatest achievement. She loved to travel, meeting up with Family and Friends, being active, shopping, & bringing joy to those around her by just being who she was.