Ange and Paul's story

When Paul proposed on Angela’s 42nd birthday, he never imagined that ovarian cancer would be the catalyst for setting a wedding date.

Nor that they’d be pulling the entire wedding together while Angela lay in a hospital bed, recovering from radical surgery.

Incredibly, she was well enough to walk down the aisle unaided just three weeks later, wearing a dress she’d picked up on the way just the day before!

“We had wanted to elope just with our kids, but when everything happened, we wanted to have our families there with us, right there on the beach at Noosa. It was just perfect,” Angela remembers.

There was no chance of a honeymoon—12 weeks of gruelling chemotherapy began just days later.

“We’d been camping when Angela’s stomach just swelled right up, but then we all came down with COVID and ended up housebound for a week before she could get to the doctor. We didn’t really think too much of it,” Paul said.

This perspective changed dramatically when the ultrasound discovered a 16-centimetre mass on one of Angela’s ovaries.

“When she said, ‘ovarian cancer’… it just hits you. And you walk out, and you can’t even really breathe,” Angela said.

Paul found himself in “fix-it” mode. “It gave me something to focus on until the next lot of scans,” he said. “You’re in this sort of limbo, so, ok what do we do next? Who do we talk to? Where do we go?”

After what seemed like a million calls, it was confirmed Angela had ovarian cancer, and it’s a day forever etched into their memories.

“And then it’s, ok you’re going to have to have surgery and every moment, you’re are at home and you're Googling… and then you’re seeing how long… how long you could have to live,” Angela said.

Sitting down with their four children and telling them what was happening one of the hardest parts of the initial journey.

“I never really tried to say that ‘I have cancer’ because we all have cancer… When you’re a family and going through this, you’re all dealing with it,” Angela said.

As she lay prepped and ready for surgery just a few weeks later, nothing went to plan. After several hours of testing, her surgery was eventually cancelled as her sodium levels had dropped so low, she could have died on the table.

“That was probably one of the hardest days because I didn't have Paul there to calm me down—you’re sort of just lying on the table, looking at the roof, looking at the lights, having doctors, nurses coming in and out and you’re just waiting,” Angela remembers.

“And you think a lot in that time. Not only for me but for Paul and the kids because, well you don’t even have any communication to even tell him what was taking so long.”

Instead, she spent four days in a hospital ward before her sodium levels became high enough to start the process all over again. It was an excruciating wait for all of them.

“At some point along the way, you come to realise that it’s totally out of your control,” Paul reflects.

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