My fight for life

Star ath­lete looks to Games af­ter beat­ing can­cer

Sunday Herald Sun - - NEWS - FIONA BYRNE

SHE is a high jumper, a fash­ion model and a role model, but Amy Pe­jkovic is, more than any­thing else, a fighter.

At 24 she has al­ready en­joyed her big­gest vic­tory — sur­viv­ing a brain tu­mour.

“I was prob­a­bly days away from dy­ing, that is what they (her doc­tor) said to me,” Pe­jkovic said.

Bat­tling a life-threat­en­ing tu­mour has not de­pleted her fight­ing spirit; rather, it has sim­ply made the girl­friend of GWS Giants player Adam Tom­lin­son set the bar higher. Her goals now in­clude rep­re­sent­ing Aus­tralia at the 2018 Com­mon­wealth Games on the Gold Coast and then the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“To make the Games af­ter what I have been through would be in­cred­i­ble,” the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of watch brand Longines said.

“I have al­ways wanted to in­spire young peo­ple, everyone goes through a lot but you can’t let it de­feat you.”

Pe­jkovic was di­ag­nosed with a 5cm tu­mour at the base of her brain in 2012, a day af­ter her 19th birth­day.

“In hind­sight I had been get­ting per­sis­tent headaches for years and never picked up on it,” she said.

“At one stage the headaches were daily, I was vom­it­ing at every train­ing ses­sion, I could not bal­ance prop­erly. I would try to walk through a door frame and just fall into the wall. I could not do any­thing prop­erly.

“I was mis­di­ag­nosed twice with a mid­dle ear in­fec­tion.”

Af­ter suf­fer­ing weeks of sear­ing pain at the base of her skull, an MRI scan re­vealed the tu­mour.

“Up un­til that point life had been pretty cruisy for me, but at that mo­ment ev­ery­thing went numb. I just went blank,” Pe­jkovic said.

“All I could think of was that I was only 19, I still have so much left to do, I have so much left to give and I am not ready to die.”

Pe­jkovic said she used the fight­ing spirit that fu­elled her ath­let­ics ca­reer to com­bat the tu­mour.

“There was not one neg­a­tive thought that popped into my head,” she said. “I was up for the fight ... there was never a doubt in my mind that I would not be able to do it.” Two years af­ter her di­ag­no­sis Pe­jkovic was ranked No.2 in the high jump in Aus­tralia, but then she suf­fered a type of de­layed shock from her health or­deal.

“I was a com­plete mess, men­tally I could not get over what had hap­pened. I have been work­ing on my­self men­tally to fo­cus on the Games and put the past be­hind me, ac­cept it, and move for­ward,” she said.

Pe­jkovic cel­e­brated the five-year an­niver­sary of her surgery in Fe­bru­ary and now is on an­other count­down — the Com­mon­wealth Games are only 185 days away.

She will re­veal the of­fi­cial Longines Com­mon­wealth Games Count­down Clock in Bris­bane on Wed­nes­day, Oc­to­ber 11.

“Mak­ing the Aus­tralian team would mean the world to me,” Pe­jkovic said. fiona.byrne@news.com.au

FIONA BYRNE

Amy Pe­jkovic and part­ner Adam Tom­lin­son of the GWS Giants; (inset) Pe­jkovic at the Fitzroy Gar­dens last week.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.