Amy's Story

A one-of-a-kind story of cancer survivorship and resilience that will move you.

Meet Amy

Amy is a lady that will not be defined by a diagnosis. However, to someone meeting her for the first time, it is hard not to be moved by her story.  

Amy, now in her 40s, was given a shock cancer diagnosis at the tender age of 21. It has meant that she has spent more time in hospital wards than most people do in a lifetime. She has faced the kind of adversity that might have broken many, but Amy’s positive outlook on life has meant she’s come through the other side, every time, with a smile on her face. 

Amy’s first diagnosis of cancer was Ewing sarcoma, a tumour in her pelvis, a rare cancer of the bones and surrounding soft tissues that most commonly occurs in children and young adults. 

“I think at 21 I was quite naïve. I knew that I had cancer, but I also didn't have a concept of what was ahead of me. I really just took it step by step, and day by day, and put our trust in the medical team. I just set about taking it on with as much knowledge as I could handle at the time.  

“But I think being that age made it a lot easier in terms of my recovery and also my desire to just get back to life.” 

Amy’s treatment plan first involved an initial round of chemotherapy to try and reduce the tumour, followed by major surgery to remove the tumour. 

“The doctors said that at the time, it was a groundbreaking surgery for Mater. I had seven specialists that worked around the clock in that surgery16 hours.” 

The operation was deemed successful; however, a year of chemotherapy and radiation lay ahead due to the aggressiveness of Ewing sarcoma. 

“My protocol was five days of chemotherapy in a row, and it would be 10-hour days that I would be on the IV treatment. Then I would have two weeks off, then a three-day protocol of different drugs, then two weeks off, and back two the five-day protocol, and so on. 

“I regularly had to stop because my bone marrow was severely compromised, and I would need to have bags of blood and platelets. That’s why it took so long.” 

Amy was diagnosed in June 2003 and returned home to Townsville 16 months later when her treatment finished. Amy was considered cancer-free and returned to full-time work in early 2005, where she met her now husband, Chris. 

One would be forgiven to think that those 16 months for Amy was more extreme than most in the health system. However, this was not Amy’s last encounter with cancer.  

In December 2007, after a routine 12-week check-up, Amy was told cancer had returned—a tumour was found in her right lung. 

“I received the call on the Monday night, I was in the cardiothoracic surgeon’s office on Wednesday, and I think they took it out later that weekit was really quick. They took the lower lobe of my right lung which has the tumour in it.” 

It wasn’t enough to just remove the tumour—the return of more cancer meant an aggressive approach was needed to fight the cancer cells that were most likely in Amy’s bloodstream and bone marrow. 

“The plan was that I would have three bone marrow transplants. What this includes is what they call high dose chemotherapy, which is different to just chemotherapy. High dose is deigned to obliterate your bone marrow, so it takes you right down to zero.” 

It was only Chris, and Amy’s parents, who could see her. Fully gowned and gloved.  

“It was extremely intense, but it's what we had to do for me to be here.” 

“To save me, they almost had to kill me.” 

Amy’s constant during this time was her positive attitude, her family and her husband, Chris. 

“Chris never gave up on me. And not to say that anyone else gave up, but I think I remember Mum saying she felt that Chris didn’t understand it, but it wasn't that he didn't get it, it was just that he refused to accept it. He just kept saying, she will be okay. She's going to fight through it.” 

Amy did fight through it and went on to live the best 10 years of her life. She described the next decade as a real-life fairytale, living a full life alongside Chris. She worked her dream job as a reading coach with Queensland Department of Education, travelling across regional Queensland to improve literacy across schools, and in her down time enjoyed spending quality time with Chris travelling and exploring.  

Whilst 2020 was the year that COVID ruled people’s lives, it wasn’t the biggest challenge for Amy. After presenting back to the doctors due to chronic pain, cancer was again discovered in Amy’s bladder. However, testament to Amy’s outlook on life, she believed she had gone through the worst already and would tackle this diagnosis headfirst with Chris by her side.  

“When it was explained to me that it was not going to require chemotherapy and radiation, it was almost like for me, a relief. I'll be fine.” 

In June 2020, Amy underwent the surgery to remove her bladder and have a reconstruction into a neobladder.  

Amy has demonstrated remarkable resilience throughout her 21-year journey with cancer, and together with Chris, she is sharing her story to raise awareness of the importance of research in cancer treatment and care, especially for rare and aggressive cancers.  

“In terms of my disease, 20 years prior to my diagnosis I wouldn’t have survived it because they didn’t have the knowledge or depth in terms of treatment. 

“I hope that research means that someone in the future could receive treatment that didn’t also result in the long-term side effects that I experienced. I have had so much of my pelvis radiated, which we had to do to beat the disease. But maybe today or in the future it could have been more targeted in terms of hitting the right spots without being detrimental to overall health.” 

Amy has not let her experience with cancer damped her vibrant personality and love for life and is using it to fuel a fire to raise awareness and funds for cancer research. 

Will you donate and help support people like Amy?