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Inspired by Teresa Neate and every patient affected by a high mortality rate cancer.
Medullary cancer of the thyroid is a rare form of thyroid cancer however thankfully due to recent medical advancements, a treatment in the form of a pill was created. Teresa began the minimally invasive treatment immediately and responded well to it. She even went back to work part time in the New Year. Fast forward to a Friday evening in July 2015 and Teresa began to lose feeling and movement in her legs. She was now 100% paralysed from the waist down. Taken by ambulance to St. Vincent’s hospital, she underwent emergency surgery on her spine. She underwent a second surgery a few days later remove the entire vertebral body and replace it with a titanium cage.
After spending 10 weeks in rehab, she miraculously learnt to walk again and came home from hospital. Teresa was recovering extremely well until, devastatingly, the tumour on her spine returned in April 2016 when she once again underwent emergency surgery. Teresa remained in hospital until she tragically passed away on September 19th, 2016.
Through Teresa’s experience her daughter, Suz, quickly learnt that there are well known cancers, and there are lesser known cancers. Sadly, the lesser known cancers have little to no funding. What this means is that their five-year survival rates of the last 30 years have not improved. These are called high mortality rate cancers. When she first heard this term her chest hurt. Suz thought about my response and thought, good, I want other people to have this reaction because there is no point sugar coating this. Less common cancers occur less frequently within the population however they tend to have higher mortality rates, with some 5-year cancer survival rates as low as 7-30%. Despite these poor survival outcomes there has to date been a lack of research into these cancers and relatively little is known about them.
Suz decided to do something about this so launched The Aftershock; a NFP organization aiming to increase the five-year survival rate of high mortality rate cancers so more people like her mother do not pass away too young.
The Aftershock represents the ripple effect of a cancer diagnosis. the shock that spreads after each diagnosis to the patient, family, friends and into the wider community. We want to start a deeper conversation around the aftershock of a diagnosis, treatment, surgery, remission, recovery, and death and how it reverberates into so many lives.