Lifestyle

Anne survives battle with "incurable" form of cancer

FORTUNATE: Anne Jonker was told in 2008 she had incurable uterine cancer. After surgery she has been cleared.
FORTUNATE: Anne Jonker was told in 2008 she had incurable uterine cancer. After surgery she has been cleared. Claudia Baxter

A WOMAN who was told she wasn't going to live has defied the odds to beat a rare form of cancer.

Anne Jonker, of East Ipswich, was diagnosed with uterine cancer five years ago by a chance discovery when she had a hysterectomy after fibroids were found on her uterus.

The mother of six was notified by doctors on Mother's Day in 2008 that her chances of survival were slim.

"My youngest son was only eight at the time and I thought he's not going to have a mother," the 55-year-old said.

My youngest son was only eight at the time and I thought he's not going to have a mother.

"I hadn't been sick a day in my life - I've never had a flu or a cold."

Doctors discovered the uterine sarcomas - malignant cells on the uterus wall - when pathology tests were carried out following the hysterectomy.

With no treatment available, Mrs Jonker was required to attend regular check-ups to monitor the cancer.

Now, five years on, her specialist has told her they are 99% sure the cancer would not return.

"This May it will be five years so it is pretty much classed as cured," Mrs Jonker said. "I'm thrilled - I think I've been a lucky one."

This May it will be five years so it is pretty much classed as cured. I'm thrilled - I think I've been a lucky one.

Queensland Centre for Gynaecological Cancer research director Andreas Obermair, Mrs Jonker's specialist, said there was far less community awareness for gynaecological cancers than breast or prostate cancer, but it was just as deadly and in desperate need of further research.

"An alarming four out of every 12 Australian women diagnosed with gynaecological cancer will lose their battle with the disease," he said.

"Equally alarming is the significant reduction of government funding since 2010, while the number of diagnosed cases has continued to rise.

"Not only is it crucial we discover more about early detection methods and cure, but it is vital we find more advanced, less invasive treatments."

Mrs Jonker, who lost her friend to ovarian cancer in 2011, has made it her wish to increase the awareness of gynaecological cancers and call for greater support networks.

"My friend was left on her own," she said. "She relied on friends and family to help her through.

"I think women are the last ones to bother to go and check on ourselves. We worry about our kids and everybody else ... we are the last ones we think about.

"It's really hard to detect ovarian cancer, but early detection could save your life."

Topics:  cancer health lifestyle



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