In February of 2018, happily married Mum of two Aarmy was working in childcare and studying early childhood education, when she began experiencing excruciating back pain. Despite
seeing numerous medical professionals, and even landing in the emergency room, she was repeatedly cleared and remained undiagnosed. At Christmas she was struggling to walk and by January she was spending most of her time in bed.
On Australia Day 2019 she collapsed and was rushed to hospital. After an MRI, doctors discovered a large spinal tumour and Aarmy was informed that ‘if I didn’t have surgery within the next 30 mins, I could be permanently paralysed’. Much of the tumour was successfully removed, but then her whole world came crashing down with the second diagnosis.
She had Multiple Myeloma, a rare blood cancer.
Suddenly Aarmy was thrust into intensive treatment, including 3 cycles of chemotherapy, 2 courses of radiation, a stem cell transplant and rehabilitation. The massive physical toll, consisting of nausea, weakness and fatigue, left her struggling with household tasks and unable to work for 10 months. She also worried about the impact on her family ‘Mum’s quite often just naturally take on the role of keeping the family together… but when you are going through treatment… it becomes very hard to still be that rock for everyone… its a continuous juggling act, the most exhausting and challenging I have ever been through’.
The side effects of the treatment left her exhausted. When she wanted to spend time with her children, Kelsey and Brayden, she frequently needed to sleep instead. The emotional rollercoaster was also difficult for their family ‘being faced with my own mortality was hard enough for me to process myself, but my children and husband were hurting too’. Fortunately Aarmy was referred to Mummy’s Wish, who were there to support her.
Aarmy was assigned a Support Coordinator, who found practical ways to ease the burden. Her tailored support plan included meal vouchers for when she ‘barely had the energy to eat, let alone make dinner for the family’ and a care pack. However ‘the most cherished item of all was a comfort bear for Kelsey’.
The Comfort Bear may look like any ordinary, super cuddly bear, but they are specially designed to support children of Mums with cancer. Each one has a recordable heart hidden inside and whenever Kelsey gives the bear hug, it plays a special, loving message from Mum. The bear comforted her during difficult times and also allowed Aarmy, now in remission, to reach out from her hospital bed and surround her with love.