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  • Confronting cancer head-on

    19 May 2016

    Diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 80, Judith Rowe was determined to stay positive and speak openly about her battle.

    Judith, an 81 year old retiree from Aldinga, will share her story at her Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea at the Aldinga Beach Retirement Village on Wednesday 18 May.

    She was diagnosed last September, and is participating in a morning tea at her retirement village to help those who are, have been, or one day will be, battling cancer.

    “I feel I have something to give,” Judith said.

    “It hasn’t been all that bad for me really. There can be a high or low. You can have a severe cancer or a not quite so bad experience and I put myself in the not quite so bad category.”

    Judith was rushed to Flinders Medical Centre with violent stomach pains late last year, where tests revealed she had ovarian cancer.

    “I must’ve blocked that out because I really can’t remember what my reaction was when they told me what I had,” she recalls.

    Shortly after being diagnosed, Judith underwent surgery to remove tumours in her lungs and bowel, and had a full hysterectomy, followed by months of chemotherapy.

    “There were bad moments, but I had to pull myself out of them,” she said.

    Her husband, Dean, was her biggest supporter.

    “Dean was absolutely marvellous, I wouldn’t have coped without him.

    “When I lost my hair, I’d sing out to Dean, ‘Look at my big ears!’ Because not seeing your ears without any hair, he’d say, ‘Oooh not those big ears again.’ We sort of looked at the funny side of that.”

    Judith is determined to speak openly about her battle with the people living at her retirement village as she begins to recover.

    “The people here are so good about it all. So light-hearted. They take it as normal to ask me how I am going and how long my hair is getting. That helps my rehab too,” she said.

    “I feel that within the village, I can talk to these people openly about how I felt, what we went through.”

    Now Judith is waiting on the ‘all-clear’ from her doctors.

    “I saw the oncologist a week ago. We had some blood tests and he was happy with everything and I’m meeting up with the surgeon in May.”

    With an estimated 1 in 81 Australian women diagnosed with ovarian cancer by the age of 85, Judith encourages everyone to talk openly about cancer, particularly those battling with the disease.

    “I feel that so many people have felt very awkward about it all… and I realise that I probably would’ve been in that category myself if the ball had been in the other court,” she said.

    “You don’t have to be. You can be as open as you like with it.”

    Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea is one of Cancer Council’s leading annual fundraising events. Now in its 23rd year, the official event date is Thursday, 26 May, and morning tea fundraisers can be hosted throughout May and June.

    Judith strongly encourages everyone to host a morning tea this May and spare a thought for those battling the life-threatening disease.

    “When you hear someone has got cancer…you just feel for them. But then when all of a sudden you are struck with it yourself…it is a different ball game,” she said.

    Cancer Council SA Chief Executive, Lincoln Size, said Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea is a great way for Australians to support Cancer Council.

    “This May and June many people from across Australia will be getting together to share a cup of tea and support those affected by cancer. A morning tea is an ideal way to get family, friends, colleagues or even community together for a good cause,” Mr Size said.

    “I encourage everyone to get involved, whether it be hosting a morning tea, attending an event, making a donation or purchasing a piece of merchandise.

    “Cancer Council SA is hoping to raise over $1.3million ($13.8m nationally) through 4,000 South Australian hosts.

    “All funds raised through Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea help fund Cancer Council’s life-saving cancer research, prevention programs, and support services for cancer patients and their families.”


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