25 August 2017
Thirty-four year old Stephanie Lockery has led a remarkable life. A trained clinical psychologist, Stephanie has spent her recent years in Afghanistan as an aid worker, helping the poor and working with the local community. During a routine break in October last year, Stephanie felt tired and run down and went to her local GP for a routine check-up - little did she know, the visit would change her life forever.
“At first, I was diagnosed with a parasite, but when my symptoms persisted I was referred for a colonoscopy. That’s when they found out I had stage 4 bowel cancer,” she explains.
“My GP broke the news to me. She had to tell me in several different ways before I comprehended what she was saying and eventually I clarified asking straight out, “You’re telling me I have cancer?” After that, I didn’t hear much else of what she said.”
Initially, Stephanie was told that her cancer was contained and that she would make a full recovery.
“I thought I’d be sick for a few years and then I’ll get on with normal life again. It took a few weeks for it to become clear just how aggressive my cancer was and that I wouldn’t make a recovery at all.”
Stephanie explains how she turned to Cancer Council SA as soon as she found out the news.
“As soon as I was diagnosed, I jumped on the Cancer Council website. In those early days when I had a diagnosis but not much more information, I was desperate for professional, easy-to-access information that I could trust.”
Diagnosed just two days before Christmas, Stephanie has spent the past six months having surgeries and treatment including a bowel resection, peritonectomy and kidney stent. She is now having palliative chemotherapy.
She explains how throughout it all, the support from those around her has been invaluable.
“I have felt incredibly well supported through my cancer experience. My family have been wonderful. One of my sisters is a doctor and she has been invaluable in helping us to navigate the medical system and explaining the results to us.”
To this day, Stephanie’s positive outlook on her cancer journey is inspirational.
“I have been overwhelmed by the expressions of love and support that I have received. It’s made me realise just how blessed I am to have such loving friends and family.”
“It also made me realise how happy I was with my life decisions. Even though I would still prefer to be working overseas I’m so thankful for the experiences that I’ve had and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
“I won’t recover from my cancer. My doctors can’t tell me how long I’ll have, but with treatment it’s probably months rather than years, and much less without treatment.”
This Daffodil Day, Stephanie’s message to others going through cancer is that they are not alone.
“Access all the support that you can! Cancer is hard, but there are people who are willing to help. It’s sometimes hard to ask for help, but if you can bring yourself to do it, it makes a huge difference.”
“At the moment, I’m still keen to keep living. The chemo is knocking me around and making life quite unpleasant, but I’m convinced that life is precious and I want to make the most of the time that I have left.”
1 in 2 Australian men and 1 in 3 Australian women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. This year alone it is estimated that over 9,700 South Australians will be diagnosed with cancer, 3,500 of which will die from the disease.
Cancer Council SA Chief Executive Lincoln Size said that through Daffodil Day, we can all support South Australians like Stephanie currently going through their own cancer journey.
“Sadly, Stephanie’s story is a reality for too many South Australians. The money raised through Daffodil Day will not only provide support and advice for people like Stephanie currently going through cancer treatment, it will also fund life changing research and prevention programs which will help us work towards a cancer free future.”
As one of the largest national fundraising events in the Southern Hemisphere, this year Cancer Council SA hopes to raise more than $400,000 locally and $5.5 million nationally on Daffodil Day. Daffodil Day is held across the state on Friday, 25th August.
For more information on Daffodil Day and how you can get involved visit the website at www.daffodilday.com.au.