Cancer can affect more than just those who are diagnosed. We take a look at cancer from a different angle with Tony Melville, who’s sister is undergoing treatment for a gynaecological cancer. In particular, we focus on the importance of support and knowing your family history.
Has your family had any history of gynaecological cancers prior to your sister’s diagnosis?
My sister has recently been diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer. My Mother died from bowel cancer but the cancer was so advanced and her actual death came so quickly after the diagnosis that it is hard to know what the original source of the cancer was. There is also significant family history of great aunts and others with cancers.
Did you know much about gynaecological cancers prior to her diagnosis?
I had heard of gynaecological cancers but had not given much thought to it. I think in practice I just grouped all cancers under a generic cancer label and did not consider any differences
What pre-existing ideas did you have about these cancers?
In effect I had very limited pre-existing ideas. I considered cancer as one generic disease and did not give much thought to any differences or how they were treated, prevented and what might be required to beat them. The big C was to be feared
How did you feel when you found out she was diagnosed?
Scared, firstly for her then for my family and myself. The time from diagnosis to surgery was very quick, so it all went by very quickly and was a bit of a blur. I was conscious of the fact that there is a family history and so it just reinforced the need for my family and I to stay vigilant with regards regular checks and understanding the symptoms.
How do you try to support her?
We live in different cities but I tried to talk to her more often so she knew I was thinking of her and was available for her to talk and share her feelings. Provide love and comfort. I visited her and spent time talking about her fears. I think this helped her.
Has the diagnosis affected you in any unexpected way?
Not in an unexpected way but it made me feel closure to her and want to spend time with her. At least in terms of time talking on the phone and more visits. It amplified my feelings for my family (wife and children) as well as spend more time thinking of my parents and childhood. Make you think more about the people you care about. So none of this would be unexpected.