Dear Melanoma author’s Australian Story

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NOBODY should have to acknowledge their mortality in their 20s, but that’s exactly what Emma Betts was faced with after a rogue mole turned out to be melanoma.

Things got significantly worse when doctors discovered the skin cancer had invaded her organs, including her liver, pancreas and lungs, as well as her spine.

She was only 22 when she was told she had months to live. What followed was an incredible story documented first-hand. Emma’s journey, which aired on Australian Story on Monday night, will change the way you think about your own future.

In the months and years that followed Emma’s diagnosis, she started a blog appropriately titled “Dear Melanoma”, got married to the love of her life and lived by a bucket list full of the simple things in life, including “always order pavlova” and “eat Caramello Koalas when the urge strikes”.

‘ENJOY OUR NEW PUPPY’

Emma died on April 8, 2017, aged 25, but the limbo between diagnosis and death was one she embraced. She never watched the clock.

The Queenslander married her sweetheart, Serge, adopted a dog, bought a unit and travelled the world. They were all big things, but her bucket list was full of smaller, more achievable goals, too.

Her “quasi bucket list” included the following things: Always have beautiful flowers in the home, always order pavlova at a restaurant, eat Sushi Train often, always have champagne in the fridge, enjoy regular massages, buy cherries and eat them like they’re going out of fashion, remember there is always time for weekends away and “enjoy our new puppy, Mr Ralph”.

Her blog was followed by thousands of people who tuned in for her updates. There, she spoke about the “rollercoaster that is life with Stage 4 melanoma — the highs, the lows and the in-between”.

“Dear Melanoma is an honest account of my 24 year old life with Stage 4 Melanoma, which is a terminal diagnosis,” Emma wrote.

“It’s all about the hopeful and happy highs, the heartbreaking lows, and everything in-between. Yes, you’ll probably cry … but I’ll make you laugh, too. Pinkie promise!”

The online posts served a purpose. She wanted to make people think about their mortality and practice sun safe behaviour.

“I want you to teach your children to be sun smart,” she urged readers. “I want you to be an advocate for increased access to treatment options. I want you to help me raise money for research.”

When she died, her father Leon wrote: “By now I’m sure you’ve heard that Emma passed away in April 2017. Before she died, Emma asked Tamra (Emma’s mum) and I to take over Dear Melanoma.

“She had witnessed phenomenal progress in cancer treatment since her diagnosis, and although too late for her, she hoped others could be spared her fate. So, always thinking of others, it was Emma’s dying wish that Dear Melanoma would continue to promote sun safe behaviour and raise funds for melanoma research.”

‘YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO HAVE CHILDREN’

In an interview filmed during the late stages of her life, shared on Australian Story on Monday, Emma revealed the heartbreaking conversation she had with doctors.

“I asked my doctor about effects on my fertility but she essentially said to me ‘It’s not going to be possible, you’re not going to be alive to have children’.”

Her dream of becoming a mother went unfilfulled but she still lived a fulfilling life. Her wedding was a highlight.

“I asked her to marry me because I felt like if she didn’t have the cancer that’s the road that we would go down,” Serge said. “I couldn’t imagine us being separated.”

The highest highs came with the lowest lows, and Emma documented them all. After a stint in hospital in February 2017, she submitted her final entry. She was in pain and struggling.

“It has been so nice not being in hospital two whole days!” she wrote. “My fingers and toes and staying crossed that I can remain out for at least a few weeks — I say at least a few weeks because there is a chance that I will be having a surgery to have a permanent device implanted to help with pain.

“I am still struggling to control my pain and fluid is building up again. I am in hospital on Tuesday having treatment. Any slither of hope falls on this treatment shrinking my tumour and fast.”

Emma passed away two months later. Her messages remain on Dear Melanoma as a reminder that life is short and should be embraced.

Australian Story aired on ABC TV on Monday night and can be viewed on ABC iview.



Source link: http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/tv/womans-heartbreaking-bucket-list-after-mole-discovered-on-her-back/news-story/d7c23f2b0848524aaf73891b174f26c7

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