Diagnosed with lung cancer at 29

Friday 1 March, 2019

About one year after this story was published, Sabrina sadly passed away on 6 June 2020, aged 34.

Her commitment to Cancer Council was extensive and inspiring, both as an ambassador and volunteer. Sabrina will always be remembered for her stength, determination and love for life.

 

Before I was diagnosed with lung cancer.

My name is Sabrina and I’m 33 years old. Four years ago, I was a different person. I was working as a sports broadcaster. I travelled regularly, loved to exercise and had a really busy social life.

But then everything changed. I was covering a basketball tour and my lower back was really sore. I put it down to all the travel, but it didn’t go away.

Working at the London Olympics 2012.

So finally, I went to the doctor. After running a whole heap of tests, my family and I were given the news. It was cancer. I was in shock.

When we found out it was lung cancer, I just couldn’t believe it.

How could I have lung cancer? I’d always been really careful with my health. I have always been fit, healthy and active and never smoked a day in my life.

But here I was. Facing Stage 4 lung cancer. When they did a scan, spots were found on my ovary, liver, bowel, brain and pelvis. I was only 29 years old. With that one piece of news, my world literally changed.

Sabrina in hospital

In hospital after my diagnosis.

Cancer Council helped me through the tough periods at the start when I didn’t know what to expect and my family had all sorts of questions. The booklets were a great source of information. They helped everyone have a bit more understanding of my situation when I found it difficult to find the words.

The doctors couldn’t give me a prognosis. But they did get me started on chemo straight away. It made me so sick. The chemo was awful. I couldn’t eat, I felt nauseous all the time. I had no energy.

After only two doses my hair started falling out in patches, so I decided to just go ahead and shave it all off. That’s when I started getting ‘the look of death’ from strangers. They could tell straight away I was a cancer patient. I’m sure they just felt concerned - but it made me feel uncomfortable. It reminded me of my illness, and sometimes I just wanted to forget and be normal, you know?

I found out about the Wig Service and made an appointment. I had my cousin’s wedding coming up and was really looking forward to getting some new hair for the occasion! Cancer Council’s nurses were really lovely.

They let me take my time finding the right colour and style and showed me how to wear the wig correctly.

The wig really helped. Finally, it gave me the confidence to face the world.  

Sabrina trying on wigs at Cancer Council

Trying on wigs at Cancer Council

Given the cancer had spread to so many parts of my body, chemo and radiation alone didn’t work. But luckily, a new drug was being trialled so I’m currently taking that. While I’m still not cancer- free, most of the tumours have either disappeared or shrunk, and it’s giving me more time with my family - which I’m so grateful for.

I still don’t know what the end of my cancer journey looks like. Like most cancer patients, my main hope is for a cure and to enter remission. It’s a far away one, but there are new treatments being discovered all the time. I hope someday to start a family and travel more - go on safari in Africa, see the gorillas, go to Cuba and India.

The support Cancer Council provides to people like me and my family is so important. Just knowing there is access to cancer nurses, financial aid and a free wig is a huge help.

Sabrina with mum Sheila

With my mum, Sheila

I know if I ever need help again, it’s just a phone call away. Cancer can be really overwhelming, not just for people like me, but for the family and friends around us. That’s why I really hope you can send a donation today. It really will make a difference to people living with cancer.

Sabrina xxx

Donate today to give people like Sabrina and their families the support they need to face cancer.