EIGHTEEN months ago, Angela Oversby’s life changed forever.
On December 1, 2015, the former Scone High School captain was diagnosed with metastatic adenocarcinoma – or terminal bowel cancer – at the age of 31.
Now, she’s determined to make every day count, as well as raise awareness of the insidious disease.
“I felt like I’d been struck by lightning when I heard the news,” said Mrs Oversby, nee Hodge.
“I was 31, married [to Kevin] with a young son [Cooper].
“I did not fit a bowel cancer tick box or have a family history.
“I showed no real symptoms that couldn’t be put down to wear and tear of child birth.
“In fact, it was once regarded as an old man’s disease.
“But, recently, it’s being seen more and more in younger people, even though it’s harder to detect.
“And, if caught early, it’s treatable.
“Unfortunately for me, I’ve been told to have quality over quantity, which is why I’ve moved back to Scone to be closer to my family (parents Lindsay and Mary Hodge, and brother Aaron).”
In October 2015, while living in Western Australia, Mrs Oversby had a laparoscopy to remove long-term endometriosis.
At that time, there was no sign of cancer.
“I didn’t recover well from the surgery,” she admitted.
“I was losing weight, fatigued, my bowel habits changed and I was passing small amounts of blood – nothing that couldn’t be associated with being a mum of a toddler.
“I saw my GP in November and, within two weeks, had a colonoscopy and was diagnosed with stage IV bowel cancer that already spread to my liver and lungs.
“The prognosis has never been great, but we have also never asked for one as there are new treatments, clinical trials coming out all the time.
“All you can do is hold onto hope.”
Mrs Oversby said they spent the first six months flying fortnightly from Esperance to Perth for treatment.
“Dealing with that and packing up Cooper every two weeks became very hard and unfair,” she explained.
“Despite the amazing support from family and friends [there], we decided to sell our home and move back to Scone.
“In 17 months, I have had the first two lines of chemotherapy with no real shrinkage of the disease.
“I’ve experienced every side effect possible, however got through it.
“In November 2016, I began an immunotherapy clinical trial – again, this had bad side effects.
“But, I continued up until March [this year], which showed a large progression of my disease.
“I was then advised by one oncologist that the best decision, for me, would be quality over quantity.
“This was very difficult to take.
“At this point, in my disease, the medical options are very limited.
“So, I am now paying out of pocket for a chemotherapy tablet that will, hopefully, hold out my cancer for a bit longer.”
To assist Mrs Oversby, Kevin and Cooper, three locals Lisa Murphy, Kristy Vaughan and Sharon Bradshaw are organising Benefit for Ange at the Scone Sporties Club on Friday, June 2, from 7pm.
“While we can’t take the cancer away, we can – as their friends and community – help this wonderful family alleviate some of the financial burden,” Mrs Bradshaw said.
“We want to help Angela, Kevin and Cooper enjoy the time they have left together making beautiful memories.
“We’re looking for: sponsorship to assist cover the costs for the night; donations for the raffle, as well as the silent auction.”
Mrs Oversby said was overwhelmed by the support of the Scone, and Hunter, community.
“It’s been amazing,” she told the Advocate.
“I don’t want to be seen as a charity case, so I’m very humbled by the three girls – Lisa, Kristy and Sharon – and what they’re doing.
“It will be emotional but also a good chance to catch-up with a lot of people I haven’t seen for a while.
“All the government-funded options have been exhausted.
“Now, I’m funding my own treatment to give me more time with my family – my husband’s been incredible.
“Even though I take each day as it comes, I’m keen to keep fighting.”
For further information, or if you can assist, contact Lisa Murphy on 0408 688 074, Kristy Vaughan on 0438 451 928 or Sharon Bradshaw on 0407 451 928.