MORE than 20 years after beating a rare form of cancer, mother-of-two Stephanie Nethercote is facing her second battle with the disease.
The 29-year-old, who is staying at the Leukaemia Foundation’s Innaloo headquarters that officially opened today, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin MALT (mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue) lymphoma when she was five.
After two years she went into remission, but grew up constantly worrying the cancer would return.
“It was always in the back of my mind,” she said.
Earlier this year, after experiencing pain in one eye, Mrs Nethercote’s fear was realised when another tumour was discovered behind her eye.
“It was a big shock to the system that it came back 25 years later,” she said.
Mrs Nethercote lives in Wickham in the Pilbara and is staying with her husband and two young children at the Foundation’s patient accommodation in Innaloo while undergoing radiotherapy.
“It’s been really good to have my family here,” she said.
“Having this apartment has really saved us.”
Mrs Nethercote previously had to spend six weeks in Perth, describing the cost as “horrendous”, before finding out about the foundation’s free accommodation.
It offers 10 self-contained apartments at the Stirling Cross development.
Leukaemia Foundation chief executive Bill Petch officially opened the facility and said the units aimed to relieve the stress and financial burden for people with blood cancer from rural and regional areas who had to relocate to Perth for treatment.
“With the co-location of accommodation with our blood cancer support services and administration office, we will be close at hand in a brand new, safe and secure home-away-from-home, with incredible amenities and, importantly, all major treatment hospitals accessible within 25 minutes,” he said.
Mrs Nethercote said the foundation had helped her “unimaginably”.
Treatment has caused her to lose vision in one eye, which doctors hope will return when inflammation subsides, and she will have to wait 12 weeks to find out if the radiation was successful. If not, she will need chemotherapy.
Despite this, she remains positive.
“If I can beat it when I was five years old, then I can beat it now,” she said.