My husband Michael was diagnosed with bowel cancer in May 2014, after returning home from an overseas business trip.
He had no energy and was very pale.
The doctor scheduled for him to undergo surgery in early June 2014, so we decided to go on a holiday to Thredbo beforehand, to spend some quality time together.
Michael and I enjoyed travelling, and skiing and we often didn’t do one without the other.
We enjoyed spending time with friends and family and we really liked to just do things together.
Our daughter Elke wasn’t even two when he was diagnosed, so we didn’t really speak to her about what was happening.
Michael’s first surgery was performed in Canberra.
They were unable to resect the tumour and so he was started on chemotherapy.
After the chemotherapy, Michael became very sick and was sent to hospital in Sydney to undergo another operation, where they were able to remove the tumour.
Michael was in Sydney for about five weeks and so our daughter was looked after by her grandmother.
We told her that Daddy was sick and that Mummy had to look after him.
She was able to come and see us a couple of times and I flew home one weekend to see her.
The whole situation was very difficult.
We just took one day at a time.
Elke was looked after by family or in childcare when she was unable to be with us.
After the surgery we decided to have another holiday together and we went to Port Douglas for a week.
Once we returned, Michael started chemo again.
About a month later, they discovered that the cancer had returned.
I bought a couple of canvases and we painted our 3 hand and foot prints onto them the day before Michael passed away.
I didn’t know it would be the last day we would spend together.
These canvases now hang in Elke’s bedroom.
Michael passed away from bowel cancer just over two years ago.
He was 32 years old.
Our beautiful daughter is now four years old.
She has to grow up without a father and it is heartbreaking, however I hope that by fundraising and raising awareness we will be able to find a cure and reduce the impact of this terrible disease in her lifetime.
I'm trying now to live life to the full as Michael's life was cut short and I think he would want Elke and me to enjoy life and experience as much as possible.
I continue to play soccer, which was something Michael also used to do.
I spend time with my friends and family and I travel for leisure.
Elke has also been learning to snow ski during winter for the last two years.
We also spend time with friends, going to activities in and around Canberra, and visiting family.
2016 is my second year participating in Decembeard.
Last year I crocheted a beard and exceeded my fundraising goal.
This year my main aim is to raise awareness about bowel cancer in honour of Michael.
I want people to understand that bowel cancer is not just an older person’s disease and that 90 percent of cases can be successfully treated if detected early.
I also want people to know what the symptoms can be.
Michael’s workplace, Callaghans Accounting and Financial Services have been fantastic at raising funds and awareness for Bowel Cancer Australia since Michael passed.
This year is the first year they are participating in Decembeard and I am a part of their team.
We’d love your support in helping to raise awareness and funds to beat bowel cancer.