My fight for life
Star athlete looks to Games after beating cancer
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. email@example.com
Amy Pejkovic and partner Adam Tomlinson of the GWS Giants; (inset) Pejkovic at the Fitzroy Gardens last week.