Fundraisers support Perth mother with terminal cancer

George and Kerry Watts of Ocean Reef. Picture: David Baylis www.communitypix.com.au d495806
George and Kerry Watts of Ocean Reef. Picture: David Baylis www.communitypix.com.au d495806

SUPPORT from friends and strangers is giving a Perth woman with terminal cancer hope that she can live long enough to celebrate another Christmas with family.

First diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2018, Kerry Watts (46) thought she had beaten breast cancer three months ago after having chemotherapy, radiation and a double mastectomy.

However two months later, the Ocean Reef resident was told the cancer had spread to her liver and lungs, and she could only have two months to a year to live.

“The cancer is so aggressive it’s growing within weeks,” she said.

“I’ve got multiple lesions in the liver.”

She has started chemotherapy and immunotherapy and the stage four cancer has shrunk.

“That’s what is going to keep me alive,” she said.

“The longer things stay under control, the longer I will live.

“If I can get to Christmas, I will be pretty happy just to have another Christmas.”

Kerry and George Watts of Ocean Reef. Picture: David Baylis d495806

While her chemotherapy was covered as a public patient, Mrs Watts said immunotherapy was not covered under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for treating breast cancer.

As a result, her family has to pay $7500 per treatment every three weeks to keep her alive.

“Even though it’s in my liver and my lungs, it’s still considered breast cancer, and not covered,” she said.

Mrs Watts said she had been overwhelmed by the support from friends, who have set up a GoFundMe page and held a quiz night to raise funds, and strangers’ generosity.

“My faith in humanity has been restored,” she said.

Denise Curnow.

Gym instructor Denise Curnow will hold a fitness event to raise funds on the basketball courts at HBF Arena in Joondalup on Sunday, September 22 from 10am to 11am.

She said entry would be $10 per person, with door and raffle prizes donated by other businesses, and the event was open to adults and children.

The Bodytech coach trained Mrs Watts in 2013 after she was injured when hit by a car.

“She helped me get back to my previous fitness level and I went on to do triathlons,” Mrs Watts said.

The North Coast Triathlon Club member said during the first fight with cancer, triathlon had helped her get through treatment, and she even did the cycle leg of an Ironman 70.3 event during chemotherapy.

Her husband George said his “fiercely independent” wife had lost her independence as a result of the disease, unable to drive, or do everyday tasks they used to take for granted, like making a sandwich.

She has two sons, Toby (21) and Aaron (18) Gent, who have already been through the tragedy of losing their father and her first husband in a jet-ski accident 10 years ago.

The pressure of her swollen liver on her diaphragm and lungs meant Mrs Watts has to have an oxygen supply almost all the time, carrying a tank on her wheelchair if she needed to leave home.

After overcoming cancer the first time, they planned to go on a big trip around Australia, but Mr Watts said even day trips had become a challenge because the portable oxygen tanks only lasted a few hours.

Mrs Watts said she regularly sat under the trees at her favourite park near Mullaloo Beach on Saturdays, where friends could join them to catch up on how her treatment was going.

She said both the pharmaceutical company she worked for and her husband’s employer had been understanding and supportive while they took time off for her treatment.

Her UK-based parents and brother flew to Perth this month to spend time with Mrs Watts, whose health improved enough for her to leave hospital two weeks ago.

Mr Watts said their perspectives had changed as they focused on spending time together as a family.

“You should always put life first; family should always come before the work part it,” he said.

Kerry and George Watts of Ocean Reef. Picture: David Baylis d495806