A single mum’s battle to live

Terminal cancer patient needs support

Her life has turned upside down.  A single mother to three daughters, she is gathering all her strength to live for her family.  Stricken with a terminal stage breast cancer, Jeanne Tiglao of Quakers Hill is trying to stay as positive as she can.

But it is not that easy.  Her family in fact has been stricken with a double blow: her eldest daughter, 16 years old, has also been diagnosed with a life-threatening tumour.

It has been a struggle for her having gone jobless for more than a year now as she undergoes regular treatment.

Fighting off a lingering depression, Jeanne is banking on friends to talk to and on people who can help their family in whatever way they can.

“I just try to stay positive, live everyday as it is,” Jeanne told AK.

“I still feel happy that friends come along, even people that I don’t know, they actually offer help when they learn about our situation,” she said.

Jeanne is 43 and hails from Cebu.  She arrived in Australia in 2006 and once worked as a cleaner.

She has been diagnosed with breast cancer after she separated from her husband a few years ago.

Her two other daughters are aged 10 and 6.

Early last year, despite surgeries and treatments, she was told by doctors at the Blacktown Hospital that her cancer has spread as more complications affected her lungs and bones.

Jeanne had a left sided mastectomy and axiliary clearance in July 2012 and recurrent  effusion of water in the lungs in 2013 at the Westmead Hospital.

“As a single mother, it’s disheartening, I discovered my case too late.  But my biggest worry is that my daughter unfortunately may have inherited my carcinogenic genes.  She’s having chemotherapy treatment,” she said.

The Social Work department has been helping Jeanne cope up with the rigours of her own treatment as well has her daughter’s.

The agency has also facilitated to have Jeanne and her family accommodated in a government housing since she has been without income because of her illness  Her ex-husband has been helping her take care of the children whenever she and her daughter go for treatment.

She avails of Medicare services but their resources have been practically depleted.

Jeanne said her illness must have been in her genes:  her mother died of ovarian cancer at age 40; she was 14 at that time.

“That was a devastating experience for me to see my mother die so young,” she said.

“I felt lost, depressed.  I was even suicidal for some time.”

Childhood trauma apparently piled up on her.  Her father left their family when she was a toddler.

Now she gives her voice to raise awareness on an illness that has affected many women, especially Filipinas.  Many have been silent sufferers but Jeanne said she is ready to share her story to be able to reach out to others.

“Think positive, fight negative thoughts and I do encourage women to undertake tests for early detection.  It can save you,” she said.

Some kind-hearted individuals who had learned of Jeanne’s plight had stepped in to offer help.  A couple had offered to raise funds for her.

Only recently, at a chance meeting in Blacktown, active community and civic leader Neil Galang offered pro bono legal assistance to help her in matters related to her health and family welfare.

“I strongly believe that the community needs to support her situation to show solidarity among Filipino migrants here in Australia,” said Mr. Galang who is also an active supporter of Cancer Council NSW.

[Generous readers who would like to get in touch with Jeanne can call her at 0414 b174b264.]

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