Some years ago, my partner, the love of my life, was told she had primary biliary cancer. OK it was not breast cancer, but it is just as aggressive and the effect on the individual and their families is the same.
From day one Cherie vowed to fight this terrible thing, we saw many Doctors, there were tests, and eventually Chemotherapy. Once a week we attended the clinic and she went home on home therapy on a little pump - she named it Ralph, because the first few days of therapy made her so sick!
Throughout the 4 long months of chemo she kept up her spirit, she fought back and was often stronger than me. When the chemo was finished she was declared cancer free, on blood tests, but we knew it would come back.
We lived like there was no tomorrow, we traveled, we danced, we enjoyed love that no-one could take away from us. And we talked.
We talked about the day we would know it had returned, we talked about the ongoing fight, and we talked about the end.
18 months after the first diagnosis there were new signs, she in pain and losing weight. It was back. This time in her ovaries.
She had surgery to alleviate the symptoms and experimental chemo, but five months later I lost her. She wanted to be home when it came, and so, with a morphine pump, and my help as a Registered Nurse, my darling wife died in my arms at home.
Her message is one of courage. Her motto, "Never give up"! Even when the end was inevitable, she planned for what would come next. She even planned her own funeral.
Her courage against insurmountable odds gave me courage to carry on. She said once when we were alone, "I know that I will probably lose this fight; but people are learning from this, and that makes a difference. One day people like me will survive".
One way or another we can all make a difference. I will, for my darling Cherie. Rest in peace my love.
Gary James Lopez
Mt Louisa, Australia