Surviving and thriving with cancer

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WHEN Somers local Linda Wilson was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer six years ago, she made a decision to live life to the fullest. She has been able to do just that while staying in her local community, thanks to the oncology team at Frankston Hospital.

“The five-year survival rate for people with pancreatic cancer is 7%,” explains the 61-year-old mother of three.

“Being a nurse and knowing what pancreatic cancer is like I decided from the day I was diagnosed that I wasn’t going to waste a minute of it being miserable.”

“I was told my cancer was incurable so I asked the question that you don’t really like to ask – I was told I probably had 6-12 months, if I was lucky.”

However just over five years later Linda has beaten the odds, after receiving a number of different treatments at Frankston Hospital.

“I’d been on chemotherapy for a while but then the team looking after me felt that particular drug wasn’t working as effectively, so I was prescribed another treatment and now my tumour markers are right down,” explains the grandmother of six.

“The treatment is a maintenance program which holds my cancer at bay – it’s still an ongoing fight to keep it that way.”

The team at Frankston Hospital is up to the challenge and is doing everything it can to support Linda so she can continue nursing part time and enjoying her favourite past time – fishing in her kayak.

“The oncologist who is looking after me sent my tumour overseas to have it tested to see whether there were any other drugs that could help me or whether any of the clinical trials that are on offer at the moment are suitable for me,” explains Linda.

“They have recently found a clinical trial that is suitable for me. However since the treatment I’m on is currently working I don’t need to go on it right now. It is nice to know though that there are still other options available if this drug stops being effective.”

Linda agrees that she would not be able to keep working and spend as much time fishing and with her family if she couldn’t get care close to home at Frankston Hospital.

Demand continues to grow for the oncology service, which is why Peninsula Health is asking the community to Take a Break for Cancer and raise funds to expand cancer services on the Peninsula so that more people like Linda can get the world class care and support they need, close to home.

“A lot of people are touched by family and friends who need to access the cancer service,” explains Linda.

“It’s very important people support their local hospital.”

Take a Break for Cancer today by hosting your own fundraising event or making a donation online at takeabreakforcancer.org.au.

First published in the Western Port News – 5 June 2018

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