My name is Tina Fusco.
I am married to my childhood sweetheart Johnny, who is a FIFO worker for Rio Tinto, and I’m the mother of two amazing children whom I am immensely proud of – Chloe (24) & Zac (17).
I’m also the HR Manager of a WA Engineering firm that employees over 350 people, where I go to work looking forward to what each day brings.
On Nov 1st, 2018, I awoke at 4am in excruciating abdominal pain that was so extreme it caused me to vomit. the pain did not subside after an hour, and I went to ED, where I had a CT scan.
I was diagnosed with an inflamed appendix, given pain relief, and sent home.
For a month the abdominal pain continued to the point that I was taking Advil so regularly for the pain it was ridiculous. In late December 2018, I went to see my GP, who ordered another CT scan because of the pain.
I had that scan on Xmas eve morning and then went to work. I was looking forward to Xmas and the holiday break.
On New Year’s Eve 2018 I received a call to present at my GP’s office.
I couldn’t because I was away on holiday and so I was told over the phone that I had either bowel or rectal cancer and should expect a call from a specialist / surgeon in the next 24 hours.
This was the 2nd time I had been diagnosed with cancer in the last 6 years, although the cancer were completely unrelated.
On New Year’s Day I had a teleconference and was advised that the tumour in the sigmoid junction was large and had burst my bowel wall. I needed a colonoscopy to further determine the situation and I was given information about treatment possibilities.
I was admitted to hospital for the colonoscopy, but the surgeon couldn’t investigate past the tumour it was that big!
He was great and advised that as it was New Year’s, he would need to gather a team to do the surgery ASAP, so he recommended I stay in hospital until that could be arranged.
The next week was a whirlwind to say the least!!!
I was counselled for the possibility of having a stoma - although prior to that point I had no idea what a stoma even was.
I was traumatised by this, and in fact It was the only time through the whole process that I was angry. I was determined not to have a stoma.
On the 10th of Jan 2019 I had surgery to remove the tumour, 27 lymph nodes, and part of my bowel.
In Feb 2019, 6 weeks after my surgery, I began chemo which I would receive weekly through IV for 30 rounds.
The care of my oncologist and those at the cancer centre was fabulous under the circumstances and I thank them to this day for getting me through the hardest time of my life!
The trials, pain and sickness associated with having chemo are many and often overwhelming.
On my 29th round I got so sick that I was hospitalised, as my body had started to shut down.
After another 2 weeks of great care, I left hospital feeling significantly better.
Today I still have 3 monthly checks and scans, although I am NED !!
This journey has taught me so many things - about the disease, myself and life - a lesson I needed to have.
I have so, so, so many stories to share about this journey and recommendations to others going through it.
My biggest take away from this experience is that you really don't know how strong you are until you have to be and guess what? "You got this!"
Picture: is of me during Chemo attending the ANZAC Day clash in Melbourne watching my team the Magpies - a rare moment that my nose wasn't bleeding, and I wasn't feeling too sick to enjoy the moment.