A new PET scan revealed the cancer was back and had spread to multiple lymph nodes – including one mass the size of a fist pressing against Mel’s bowel and spine. It is now understood to have been the cause of her back pain.
“At the medical oncologist appointment, he looked at us and said, ‘This is what’s going to end your life.’ It was the last thing we expected to hear,” she says.
When Mel spoke to New Idea earlier this month, she had recently finished a round of chemo. She’d also just shaved her head while video-chatting with her Queensland-based mum and sister, and South Australian dad and his partner.
“My hair was falling out in clumps anyway, so I shaved it – I’m proud of it,” she says, matter-of-factly. “Eddy still calls me Mummy and that’s all that matters. It’s a relief because I look a lot like my dad now!”
Despite her terminal diagnosis, Mel is fighting for her life, and is currently facing at least two more rounds of chemo. She is also considering a second opinion.
“Eddy doesn’t know Mum’s sick and I don’t want to tell him yet,” she explains. “I’m not ready to do all those things like videos and letters for him unless I absolutely have to.”
In among her medical appointments, Mel, Matt and Eddy are taking off this week for a holiday to Hamilton Island. They’ve been helped in part by the generous donations of family, friends and even strangers to a GoFundMe page set up by her older sister, Lisa, and friend, also called Mel.
“Because of that page, I’ve been able to get a wig that’s identical to my hair, and go on a holiday,” says Mel. “We want to make as many family memories as we can. It will help in the times to come.
“I want to do what I can now for their future. Matt is a wonderful dad and partner. He’s putting on a brave face, but has told me that when he’s on his own, he does let it out and breaks down a bit.”
Now, Mel wants to advocate for other women to press their doctors for answers if they feel something’s not right.
“Trust your gut instinct, keep at your doctors and don’t give up,” she says. “I should have gone back to my hospital or my gynaecologist.
“I don’t know if it was a fear thing. I don’t even know if it would have changed the outcome, but I’ll never know.
“I didn’t know women being misdiagnosed was a thing until it happened to me. More doctors need to listen, especially when the patient already has a background [of cancer].”
Donate to Mel's GoFundMe here.