In August 2018, my beautiful mother, Teresa Smith was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma. She was 46 years old. Australia told her they had never seen a diagnosis like it at her age and diagnosed her as terminal, with only palliative care options available to her. Teresa turned to overseas treatment options, spending five consecutive months receiving intense treatment in Japan (Hiroshima) and eventually travelling to Singapore every three weeks for treatment under the extraordinary Dr Quek (sarcoma specialist). The treatment Teresa received in Japan and Singapore was well-advanced compared to Australia and afforded her periods of remission. However, the treatment options for her were still limited due to the rare nature of the cancer and the limited research conducted on what treatment worked best. Unfortunately, it was a combination of Teresa’s aggressive cancer and COVID-19 travel restrictions that resulted in her tragic death on 1 July 2020.
It can be difficult to truly understand how research into the advancement of treatment can impact lives, until you personally experience the loss of a loved one who could have been saved or given a few more years at life by simply having access to treatment options. Teresa never ceased helping others in their cancer treatment journey and she deserves nothing less than to have her story heard to hopefully have some impact on raising awareness into the importance of research into sarcoma.