Earlier this year, our gorgeous team member, Bec Thompson’s world was turned upside down after being diagnosed with cancer. Now, the 35-year-old is eager to raise awareness and encourage people to get their eyes tested and undergo regular health checks. PLEASE SHARE. The good news is, she’s undergone an op and hasn’t lost her eye.
As a writer, Bec’s usually the one asking all the questions. But here, she shares some of her journey with us…
~ Bec, how are you doing? ~
I’m ok. Sometimes it all feels a bit like a dream. I haven’t walked with cancer at close quarters before, so the learnings are many. Tell you what; the word ‘journey’ is perfect to describe this cancer caper. My emotions have generally been positive, but there have been some dark, down days. I’ve tried to treat the whole shebang as an adventure and learning experience, with a decent sprinkle of humour thrown in. Surprisingly (I’m a late adopter), social media, particularly Instagram, has been a helpful tool for me to process the journey, and to offer updates.
I’ve been blown away and uplifted by the generosity of the human spirit. There have been many kind, thoughtful and encouraging words and gestures coming my way from the lovely humans in Geelong (this place has been my second home since 2002 when I rocked up at Deakin University’s Waurn Ponds campus, and the community in my hometown of Maffra at Gippsland. https://www.facebook.com/MBTA3860/
My folks Brenda and Robert have been an amazing support. Their love, care, kindness and patience (and sense of humour – if you’ve met mum you’ll understand) have been just what the doctor ordered. I certainly wouldn’t be coping so well if it wasn’t for them. They are incredible people, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to spend some quality time in their company. I can’t imagine what this experience must be like for a parent.
~ What kind of cancer is it? ~
MALT Lymphoma. According to the doc, a ’boutique tumour’ (a bit la-de-da, hey?). It’s surrounding the optic nerve of my left eye, and about 4.5cm long by 1.5cm wide.
~ How was it picked up? ~
During a routine eye check in January. Did you know that an eye check can show what’s happening in your brain? (I certainly didn’t!)
~ Did you have any symptoms? ~
Nah but yeah. Initially, I didn’t think so but on reflection, signs were there last year (dizziness, seeing stars/dark figures, double vision, tiredness, droopy/watering/bulging eye, etc). I just put it down to everyday life – for example, lacking sleep and iron, trying to do too much (that dreaded ‘busy; word), and that I probably needed an eye check, etc.
*Side note: Home remedies of a saltwater wash and the old pulling of the top eyelid over the bottom lid did not work in this situation.
~ What’s happening with your treatment? ~
I’m in excellent hands with the crew at Barwon Health’s Andrew Love Cancer Centre, Geelong.
Firstly, I’d just like to say…to the doctors, specialists, nurses and staff and volunteers (I had the pleasure of meeting a beautiful lady by the name of Frances – check out her story, here Jacq, I’ve tagged you on Facebook), thank you so much for helping me, and for the incredible work you do in our community.
As for my treatment, I’ve just finished a month of daily radiotherapy (high-energy X-rays to destroy the cancer cells). Waiting a few weeks for the zapping to do its thing, and then back for tests.
~ Moral of the story ~
Get your peepers checked, party people! I highly recommend the lovely folk at Specsavers Geelong Westfield
So far 150 humans and their eyeballs in my world have been checked/are booked in, please feel free to spread the word in your neck of the woods.
We send Bec lots of love and thank her for the insight and her bravery.
Visit https://www.lymphoma.org.au/donations to help search for a cure for lymphoma and provide support to its cancer patients.
Photo: Ebony Tannouri Photography