Melinda Ferszt, 35, experienced hot flashes and fainting since she was 20, but learned to cope with it throughout the years. After she fell ill at work, she was advised to undergo a blood test.
"My husband, Mark, was in that office with me and he went completely white, and I was simply distraught."
How Bowel Cancer Changed Melinda’s Life
At 35 years of age, no one expects a diagnosis of primary cancer, and indeed no one expects a diagnosis of metastatic tumour, especially colon cancer that has metastasised to the liver. Melinda was shocked when diagnosed and symptom-free. But today; with the burden of cancer diagnosis increasing; this is the reality that some people face through no fault of their own. Our genes/DNA can be affected by all types of challenges in today’s world, and sometimes those challenges result in a diagnosis of cancer.
HOW LIFE CAN CHANGE
2 August 2018 Flew to Melbourne for a long weekend. A romantic birthday surprise from Mark
10 August 2018 Attended charity event luncheon – St John’s Crisis Centre, Surfers Paradise
13 August 2018 School drop off, coffee with friends, school pick-up, play date, blood test
23 August 2018 Blood tests confirm the liver abnormality
27 August 2018 School drop-off, work, school pick-up, run
28 August 2018 School drop-off, work, school pick-up, gym, pick up mother-in-law from the airport
30 August 2018 Scans confirm cancer in bowel and liver
6 September 2018 Colonoscopy/biopsy
Biopsy results revealed that her liver was covered with an inoperable tumour the size of a golf ball.
11 September 2018 Advised not eligible for liver transplant/terminal prognosis
Breaking the news to her family
Her prognosis is terminal with an estimated 2 years to live with treatment. The Public Health system offered chemotherapy to “prolong her time”. Private health options within Australia are also limited to Melinda’s cancer.
“Mark is my soul mate. It is so tough for him. He broke down and said he wasn’t ready to be mum and dad to Sophie and Madeleine, who is four. I can’t leave them. I can’t die. We will leave no stone unturned to find a better outcome.”
Melinda said she would remain strong and would not “go down without a fight”
“My daughters need their mum,” she said. “I want to be part of their special milestones in life. When the family was by the water on the Gold Coast the other day, I told them to take a snapshot of the beautiful surroundings in their mind and remember it. We are so lucky to live in such an amazing place.”
Most people are unprepared for this life-changing experience. At a time in their lives when raising children and doing their best to be a present and proactive mum. Involved with school activities, drop-offs, sports days, children’s after-hours hobbies etc.
A substantial burden on families
In today’s world, illness places a substantial emotional and financial burden on families. An intensely physical burden on patients as they recover from treatments amidst the duties of being a mum.
"It's been a daunting and complicated journey where the ground continues to shift from under me; where we maintain and manage, choose from a number of paths, take a few dirt tracks, endure a few bumps, but ultimately it is all about going to the ends of the Earth to get this insidious disease out of me."
The shock of the diagnosis flattened the young mum. The words from her eight-year-old daughter, Sophie, pulled her from the depths of despair and renewed her fighting spirit.
“Sophie said to me, ‘Please don’t die mummy. Please don’t leave me.’ That was it. I stepped back into life and vowed I would fight with every breath to stay alive for my beautiful kids and husband. I may have been offered no hope in the oncologist’s office, but I have now realised that faith comes from within. I could be the person who beats the odds. I don’t need easy. I just need possible” she said.
13 September 2018 Stent inserted
17 September 2018 Chemo started/port-a-cath inserted
Melinda’s targeted, personalized approach to treatment and willingness to go beyond the GCUH's conservative approach is paying off so far.
Melinda refused to accept the heart – wrenching outcome and engaged the services of the Grace-Gawler Institute. A cancer navigation consultant & advocate. The not-for-profit sought treatment options not available within Australia from her vast network of specialists. Using cutting edge technology offshore, in conjunction with Melinda’s hospital care within Australia.
Melinda’s response to her treatment so far has been nothing short of mind-blowing to all those who are treating her and following her journey.
The only thing that will hold her back is financing the next steps. Costs will be ongoing for at least the next 18 to 24 months.
"I can. I will. End of story."
Time is now critical
21 June 2019 Molecular-level blood tests and PET CT scans conducted recently have revealed that her cancer mutations have re-emerged in her bloodstream. Remaining liver lesions have grown in size and activity of the cancer cells has increased. It’s been quite a shock and a sobering wake-up call as to the seriousness of her condition. Only 2 months ago she had received her very best results in terms of lowest tumour marker levels, and a repaired immune system from the treatments in Japan.
Cancer has not spread to other organs
“It appears that after 15 rounds of full-dose chemotherapy, the last 3 rounds have done me more harm than good. With the toxicity of the drugs compromising some of the previous excellent results. The cancer is signalling that it has developed resistance to the chemotherapy and is regathering its strength to resume its charge. However, the good news is that the liver tumours are still relatively small in size. Cancer has not spread to any other organs, and the host tumour in the bowel remains dormant.
Treatment available in Osaka
After consultation with our specialist oncologist in Sydney and our cancer consultant, I’ve begun taking targeted additional medicine sourced from Germany. It disrupts the communication between the cancer cells. We are seeking specialty types of ‘targeted’ liver cancer treatment, suitable to my genetic profile. This treatment is not available in Australia. We’re awaiting further instruction from specialists in Japan. There is an option in Osaka if I am accepted, with the possibility of going within 2 weeks.
"I owe my life to your love & support and am touched by the generosity of the human spirit to help in my fight for a miracle for my family xox"
Melinda’s friends and family responded with complete shock on news of her diagnosis. A friend set up a Go-Fund page which has raised a $100 000 to date. Assisting her in her incredible medical journey so far. Supporting living costs as she is no longer able to work with her ongoing treatments. Unfortunately, all of this treatment has come at a considerable cost and has absorbed most of the funds which have been raised to date.
"Having assisted Melinda as her cancer navigator since her diagnosis in September 2018, she more than qualifies to gain your trust and compassion for her situation. Our Institute has already donated some free services. Please give to save and extend Melinda’s life. With airfares, accommodation, treatment costs, I suggest an estimated fundraising target of $80,000."Grace GawlerFounder Grace-Gawler Institute
How you can help Melinda
Not everyone can give a lot, but many of us can give a little and it all adds up. Every cent helps in this battle.
Join us for a special evening of love and laughter as we support Melinda with her ongoing medical treatments in the fight for her life against cancer.
Enjoy 4 hours of entertainment, auctions and raffles with delicious canapes and beverages while taking in the stunning views of the Gold Coast skyline.
Melinda will be thrilled to see as many of you as possible at this event. If you are unable to attend but would still like to offer your support. We are accepting donations of raffle prizes and auctions items. If you would like to contribute, please send an email directly via this platform.
To show our gratitude for your support, every Donor will stand a chance to win two nights’ accommodation on-board, Prima, for two adults and two children.
- Sleeping arrangements set up as one private cabin with ensuite and two single bunks in open-plan shared accommodation.
- Snorkelling equipment and stinger suits
- Linen and bath towels
- Freshly prepared meals and snacks onboard
- BYO alcohol
- Marine and national park fees and marina levies
- Services of the experienced skipper and friendly crew
The winner will be announced Friday, August 30th 2019 on the One Light Charity Facebook.
Every $50 donation = 1 entry into the raffle ($100 = 2 entries)
- Please note: When is a donation not a tax deduction? First of all, if you receive a raffle ticket, dinner attendance, event entry, chocolates, or anything like that, then your donation can’t be claimed as a deduction. Basically, if you receive something because of your donation, then don’t claim the donation as a tax deduction.
- Donations to this Campaign is not a tax deduction.
Thank you to everyone who donated - $30 065
Because of your generous donations, we were able to raise a total of $30 065.
Your donations will assist Melinda to seek medical options not available in Australia.
Photos and updates on Facebook, Instagram and our Website have been posted. If you support what we are doing, please follow us for more updates and future Campaigns.
To show our appreciation to you, we have entered every Donor into the Southern Cross Sailing Adventure drawing. The prize winner was drawn via a live video link on our Facebook page. And the winner is….congratulations Bruce Manson!
The One Light Guarantee: we make maximum impact investments in our communities on behalf of our donors who want to see more funds flow towards solving pressing social needs.
Thank you again for your support.
The One Light Team
Latest results of CT scan
As I prepare to leave my beautiful babies tomorrow yet again, I thought I would share what has been going on in the last few weeks.
The images from the latest CT scan have been assessed and the results are amazing!! I have responded to the first round of targeted liver treatment brilliantly with a huge reduction in the size of all tumours! The primary tumour in my bowel is still completely dormant.
All of my treatments are being organised to work to my greatest advantage. It’s cutting edge medical science, genomically tested and personalized for me.
I have been accepted for the second round of targeted treatment with a professor in Germany; one of the best Interventional Radiologists in the world. He has read my case and is very excited to treat me immediately. We are very time-sensitive post the last procedure, so I have been scheduled for treatment on the 17th September; followed by more cell-based Immunotherapy in Tokyo the following week.
I have been fortunate to get this opportunity but obviously, it still saddens me to leave the girls again and everything else that goes with travelling for medical reasons BUT in the big picture….. it’s worth every sacrifice! As I’ve said before “I don’t need easy, I just need possible”.
I wouldn’t be in this position without all my amazing family, friends and community continually supporting me. You have all contributed to this outcome one way or another. It has helped me enormously because I’ll tell you it’s been one crazy year mentally, emotionally & physically!
I’m extremely hopeful that when I return from this trip I will have more good news to share, but for now, remember me in your prayers as I thank you in mine.
|Rebecca Anderson||$50.00||August 30, 2019|
|Bernard Lennox||$100.00||August 30, 2019|
|Grant Benson||$50.00||August 30, 2019|
|Leticia Beard||$50.00||August 30, 2019|
|Donation Greg Pechan||$25,165.00||August 29, 2019|
|Victoria Borg||$500.00||August 16, 2019|
|Victoria Borg||$100.00||August 16, 2019|
|Subhuj Pradhan||$500.00||August 13, 2019|
|Aroha O'Brien||$50.00||August 10, 2019|
|Daryl White||$50.00||August 07, 2019|
|Martina Kostov||$100.00||August 06, 2019|
|Captains Retreat||$500.00||August 03, 2019|
|LOUISE TAVENER||$200.00||August 02, 2019|
|John Gianfranco||$50.00||August 02, 2019|
|John Gianfranco||$50.00||August 02, 2019|
|Clarence Gibbons||$300.00||August 01, 2019|
|Peter Herrmann||$50.00||August 01, 2019|
|Andrea Fiske||$100.00||August 01, 2019|
|David Horne||$50.00||August 01, 2019|
|Peter Damestoy||$50.00||August 01, 2019|
|Brenton Matthews||$100.00||August 01, 2019|
|Brian Merrett||$50.00||August 01, 2019|
|DAVID SCHLOTTMAN||$50.00||August 01, 2019|
|John Aquilina||$250.00||August 01, 2019|
|Ding Bai||$50.00||August 01, 2019|
|Di van Vliet||$50.00||August 01, 2019|
|Jose Viera||$50.00||August 01, 2019|
|Ky Best||$50.00||August 01, 2019|
|Yildiray Gazi||$500.00||August 01, 2019|
|Karen Myers||$100.00||August 01, 2019|
|Cathy Dibble||$50.00||August 01, 2019|
|Bruce Manson||$100.00||August 01, 2019|
|Andrea Key||$100.00||August 01, 2019|
|Hester Olivier||$50.00||August 01, 2019|
|Anne Mclellan||$50.00||August 01, 2019|
|Sarah Kershaw||$100.00||August 01, 2019|
|Peter Fenton||$50.00||August 01, 2019|
|Geoffrey Byfield||$50.00||August 01, 2019|
|Greg Smith||$50.00||August 01, 2019|
|Heather Bell||$150.00||July 31, 2019|