Losing my best friend... the ripple effects of cancer

Losing my best friend… the ripple effects of cancer

Despite the fantastic news that we’re on track to eliminate cervical cancer in Australia within the next 20 years, almost 45% of Australian women are still not participating in regular cervical screening. You can give now to make a difference.

Kylie Duncan was diagnosed with cervical cancer in March 2017.

One of her first calls was to her best friend Sam, who recalls the day in vivid detail:

Sam celebrating best friend Kylie’s graduation

“On 31 March 2017, I got a phone call at work. Through her tears, Kylie managed to tell me that her gynaecologist thought she had cervical cancer. I live six hours away, and had travelled for work that day, so was a total of eight hours away. I jumped in the car and immediately drove to her… What followed was 14 months of the biggest fight I have ever seen, by someone I continue to be inspired by every day.”

In December 2017 further PET scans revealed tumours on her lungs and more aggressive chemotherapy followed, with Kylie spending up to 10 hours a day hooked up to three different chemo drugs.

After further testing, Kylie was diagnosed with Stage IIB cervical cancer and underwent five weeks of chemotherapy and radiation and three rounds of brachytherapy. As Sam recalls: “I’ve never seen someone take cancer treatment so well! She insisted she would beat this thing and never once asked ‘Why me?’”

“Things stayed stable for a while,” Sam says, “but in June we received the biggest blow – it was in her brain. She underwent surgery and radiation, with some awful side effects.”

“It was then that I began to realise I was going to lose my best friend, the person I was closest to in the whole world.”

“On 1 August 2018, we were told she only had days left. Even then she was only worried about everyone else – her Mum and Dad and her older brother, me, her friends, her work, and most of all, her beautiful little nephews who she loved more than anything in the world.”

Kylie lost her fight against cervical cancer on 7 August 2018. She was 32.

Cervical cancer has a ripple effect that extends far beyond those diagnosed with this terrible disease. Friends, family and workmates are all impacted, and its effects can last a lifetime. What makes it even harder to bear, is that with regular screening, deaths from cervical cancer are almost entirely preventable.

This has had a lasting impact on Sam, who says:

“Kylie wouldn’t want any woman to go through what she went through and having watched it myself, I want to encourage all women to not only have regular screenings, but know that if something doesn’t feel right and your GP isn’t doing what you think they should, it’s your right to fight for a second opinion.”

Along with Kylie’s family and friends, Sam continues to live with the impacts of cervical cancer. But despite her sadness, she’s using her experience to help others. By sharing Kylie’s story, she hopes to educate women about the importance of regular cervical screening and how a missed screening can completely change – and even end – a life.

With your donation this end of financial year, you can help us educate, inform and save lives. Unfortunately Kylie isn’t with us anymore, but with the help of those she leaves behind, we can prevent a similar outcome for women across Australia.

It’s within our power to almost totally eliminate cervical cancer within 20 years, changing countless lives in the process. But we can’t do it without your help.

With your support, we can make an incredible impact. Make a small contribution today and see the ripples extend beyond your life, to those of people like Sam and Kylie.