HALOUMA Pittock blamed menopause for feeling off until she was told she was riddled with a rare transitional cell cancer and 10 tumours in almost every part of her body.
Cancer affects us all in so many ways – for the mother of two, her diagnosis has not only impacted her health but also her finances.
The Bunnings Halls Head employee said she would rely on her husband as her full time carer, which would mean he could only work 26 hours a week.
“He didn’t work for months because I was too ill,” she said.
“I was asleep all the time and couldn’t do anything.”
Mrs Pittock first visited the GP after feeling tired and experiencing pains but all her blood tests and one biopsy came back negative.
She said she experienced stomach swelling one day, before work in December 2017, and decided to visit the Emergency Department at Peel Health Campus.
“They did tests and I found out I had the rare cancer and it’s meta-static,” she said.
“They couldn’t find out what it was to start with because this type of cancer usually starts in the urinary tract but my primary is in the kidney.”
Mrs Pittock said chemotherapy ceased to work and instead of stopping the tumours in their growth, they only increased in size.
Her tumours were also inoperable because there are so many of them.
“I have tumours in my bowel, kidney, intestine, spine, brain lymph nodes in my chest and buttocks – everywhere really,” she said.
“What I’ve got isn’t curable – it’s life or death really.”
Mrs Pittock said due to her husband being absent from work for so long, they don’t have enough to fund a potentially life-prolonging immunotherapy treatment.
She has completed four sessions but relied on the generosity of her work colleagues from Bunnings, family and friends to pay for sessions. She needs to complete a total of six.
Each session is almost $4500 each and costs are not covered under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
After the sixth, she will go for a test to see if the treatment has improved her overall health.
She described being force fed by her husband and unable to move before the treatment to now walking and playing with her Jack Russell named Archie.
Mrs Pittock seemed positive it had made a difference, and if it had, immunotherapy could extend her life by two years.
“We just have no money left now – we’ve run out of everything really,” she said.
“We need to fund session five and six and if a scan I do in three weeks shows it’s working, I will have to pay for more sessions and it will be ongoing I presume,” she said.
Mrs Pittock’s friend Laura McNeill set up a GoFundMe page to raise $30,000 for the fifth and sixth session of immunotherapy treatment and medical costs.
More than $13,300 has been raised so far by generous strangers, local friends and family of Mrs Pittock.
To donate to her gofundme page head to gofundme.