My fes­tive stress was deadly

Sharon blamed her tired­ness on fes­tive prep, but it was a lot more se­ri­ous Sharon Frazer, 49, Syd­ney, NSW

that's life (Australia) - - Contents -

Col­laps­ing down on the sofa, tired­ness in­stantly hit me. Why is the build up to Christ­mas so manic?

I thought.

With four kids, Han­nah, 19, Ge­or­gia 18, Char­lotte, 17, and Matthew, 15, things were fran­tic – even if they were al­most adults!

As well as rush­ing around get­ting pressies for every­one, I was also help­ing out at a lo­cal char­ity. But al­though the fes­tive pe­riod was al­ways busy, I had never felt this lethar­gic be­fore.

I’d also no­ticed a few bruises on my thighs, but as­sumed it was from clum­si­ness.

Brush­ing my teeth that night, my gums started bleed­ing.

‘That’s a bit strange, keep an eye on it,’ said my hubby Robert, 48, after I told him.

And a few days later, as I wrapped up gifts, I spot­ted some bruises on my palm.

‘This is a weird place to get a bruise, don’t you think?’ I asked Han­nah.

‘Mum, this isn’t nor­mal, I’m book­ing you a doc­tor’s ap­point­ment,’ she in­sisted.

The next morn­ing, I sat with my GP as I listed my symp­toms.

‘I’ve also been hav­ing a few nose­bleeds,’ I added.

‘I’m go­ing to take some blood tests,’ she said.

Back home, I’d to­tally for­got­ten about the whole thing when the phone rang.

It was my doc­tor. She wanted me to pack a bag and im­me­di­ately go to Royal North Shore Hospi­tal.

What was go­ing on?

With Ge­or­gia and Han­nah by my side, I had some more tests.

Then the un­think­able was con­firmed. I had ag­gres­sive acute myeloid leukaemia – can­cer of the blood and bone mar­row.

My body wasn’t able to pro­duce nor­mal blood cells.

‘We’re go­ing to start chemo right away,’ the doc­tor said.

And long-term I’d need a bone-mar­row trans­plant.

‘If you’d come any later, we wouldn’t have been able to save you,’ added the doc. My head was spin­ning. How could I be so ill and not have known?

By now, Robert had met me at the hospi­tal.

‘You’re go­ing to be okay,’ he soothed as I wept in his arms.

Given a seven-day course of chemo­ther­apy, I felt sick as the treat­ment started.

Bleed­ing heav­ily from my nose and mouth, I needed blood-platelet do­na­tions to keep me alive.

While fam­ily and friends ral­lied around, I also up­dated my two broth­ers, Aaron and WaiMarn, in Malaysia.

‘You can get through this,’ Aaron re­as­sured me.

But I felt ter­ri­ble and, dev­as­tat­ingly, the chemo didn’t work and I had to have a sec­ond round.

By this point, it was ap­proach­ing Christ­mas.

‘Don’t worry, Mum, we’ll bring the party to you,’ said Ge­or­gia.

So on Christ­mas Day, my lovely fam­ily turned up at hospi­tal armed with a feast of a tra­di­tional turkey and all the trim­mings.

But de­spite our joy, a few days later, I had some bad news – the chemo hadn’t worked. I had just 15 per cent chance of sur­vival.

‘I’m not ready to go. I want to see the kids go to uni and get mar­ried,’ I cried.

‘You have to stay strong. I’m with you all the way,’ Robert soothed.

My new op­tion was to try a com­bi­na­tion of trial drugs and chemo.

Mean­while, the search was on to find a bone mar­row trans­plant – my one true chance of sur­vival.

Watch­ing the New Year fire­works from my hospi­tal bed, I only had one wish for the com­ing year.

Please find me a match,

I hoped.

A few days later, my doc­tor came to see me and clutched my hand.

‘We’ve done a world­wide search of 30 mil­lion donors, but there’s no matches,’ he said.

My heart dropped.

How was I pos­si­bly go­ing to over­come this? The last op­tion was my broth­ers. I al­ready knew WaiMarn wouldn’t be able to do it as he has haemophilia, so I phoned Aaron and he agreed to get tested.

After an agonising 10 weeks, my doc­tor came to me with news.

‘Aaron is a match!’ he said. I’d been given a sec­ond chance to live!

Aaron flew over so the treat­ment could be­gin.

‘Thank you so much,’

I said, burst­ing into tears.

By the time the trans­plant took place it was March and I had been in hospi­tal nearly four months.

But the process was so much eas­ier than we had thought.

‘It was as easy as do­nat­ing blood,’ Aaron smiled.

My im­mune sys­tem was still ex­tremely low and a few days after the pro­ce­dure I ended up with an in­fec­tion.

Aaron had to go back to Malaysia and I was un­able to even hug him good­bye.

Fi­nally, at the end of March, I was free to leave hospi­tal.

As Robert drove me home, I asked him to stop off at the beach.

Sit­ting on the sand, I took in the fresh air and lis­tened to the waves.

This is what life is about,

I thought.

To­day, my sur­vival chances are up to 80 per cent.

It’s thanks to my brother – and other blood donors – that I’m still here.

Don’t un­der­es­ti­mate the im­por­tance of do­nat­ing blood this Christ­mas. You’re lit­er­ally giv­ing the gift of life.

Me with the kids when they were lit­tle ‘If you’d come any later we wouldn’t be ableto save you’Our first Christ­mas af ter the trans­plant

Me and Aaron to­day

I had 15 per cent chance ofsur­vival Matthew, Robert, me, Ge­or­gia, Han­nah and Char­lotte, dur­ing my treat­mentHave you been saved by a sib­ling? My brother Aaron do­nat­ing his bone mar­row

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.