‘I broke down crying’: Outpouring of support after diagnosis
CENTRAL Queensland communities have helped raise close to $30,000 in just five days to support a 28-year-old local who was recently diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer.
Taylor Battersby, who grew up at Moranbah, had her life flipped upside down when she received the life changing diagnosis just days before Christmas.
In September, 2019, she was so sick, she had to stay in bed for almost two weeks.
Doctors told her it was probably influenza, until she started having "terrible" heartburn and acid reflux a few weeks later.
The acid reflux continued until early December, with the onset of stomach pains so bad, she thought she would vomit or pass out.
"I knew this wasn't right," shes said.
She sought out a second opinion and after bloodtests came back with abnormalities, Ms Battersby was sent to the Emerald Hospital for an emergency CT scan that revealed the prognosis.
"I went completely numb. It was really like an out of body experience," she said.
"As soon as I heard the words 'we're pretty sure it's cancer', it was like a wave of calmness came over me.
"I didn't cry or anything. I just started firing off all sorts of questions to the doctor about what was next."
Ms Battersby and her fiance Joe were rushed to Mackay Base Hospital where they were told the tumour was so big that it was almost completely blocking the middle of her large bowel.
She had emergency surgery where they removed 22cm of the large bowel, 18cm of the small bowel and 72 lymph nodes from her heart to pelvic line.
Since then she has undertaken six months of chemotherapy that removed the leftover tumour, but unfortunately the treatment stopped working sometime in the past three months.
The cancerous lymph node in her abdominal cavity has now doubled in size, and two others have popped up, one near the spine and one on the stem of the lungs.
"Once I was home later and had time to reflect, I was absolutely devastated," Ms Battersby said of the news.
She has since been accepted into a two year clinical trial at Princess Alexandria Hospital in Brisbane which will involve her and fiance Joe taking six months off work and temporarily relocating to Brisbane.
To help cover travel expenses, Ms Battersby stepped out of her comfort zone and decided to start a GoFundMe page, with an initial goal of $5000.
"That target was smashed in less than two hours and in less than 24 hours, almost $20,000 had been raised," she said.
"I broke down crying in the shower that night. I'm honestly just speechless at people's generosity."
She said she was "absolutely overwhelmed" at the support of friends, family and strangers across the region and beyond.
"When you have cancer, you feel very isolated from everyone around you," she said.
"It's like you're in a bubble and everyone else is on the outside and everything they say to you is muffled."
The fund currently sits at $29,937, and will help the couple pay for groceries, bills, travel costs and more.
"I also unfortunately don't have private health insurance, so it will help us pay for any drugs and treatments that I might be approved to try which aren't covered by PBS or Medicare."
It has been a whirlwind of a year for the Emerald couple, and despite it all, they are determined to keep pushing forward.
Ms Battersby, who had no family history of cancer, said it was important to "always listen to your body".
"Know when something isn't right or is out of the ordinary for you.
"Most importantly, be your own advocate.
"So many young people with cancer are unfortunately brushed off for months or even years by doctors who think they're 'too young for cancer'.
"In my case, this could have been especially true because bowel cancer is more common in people 50 years and older.
"Luckily for me, my GP listened to my concerns and was right onto finding a diagnosis for me straight away."
To follow her journey or support Ms Battersby, visit the 'Help Taylor Beat Bowel Cancer' GoFundMe page.