SARAH KITTO, 26, CANCER SURVIVOR AND VOLUNTEER

On Saturday, May 18 the 26-year-old will be taking part in the Hills Relay For Life as a member of the organising committee.

The former Crestwood High and Kellyville High student returned home from Townsville where she was teaching last year after she was diagnosed with Gastric Diffuse Large B-Cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

At first it was thought she had reflux but after months of pain and trips to Emergency Department, further tests revealed the true cause.

“During the gastroscopy, the gastroenterologist found that my stomach lining was coated in ulcers, so took biopsies and this is how the cancer was diagnosed,” she said.

“The haematologist in Townsville advised that I’d receive better care in a major city hospital – especially if I had any complications during treatment, so I made the decision to move home (to Kellyville) and have my treatment at Westmead Hospital.”

Treatment finished in December. “The Cancer Council have been amazing,” she said. “Just before I started treatment, the Cancer Council invited us to an information session at Westmead Hospital, where we received lots of information about chemo, the hospital, numbers to call if we needed assistance with anything, programs that we could attend if we wished, and gave us access to The Cancer Council volunteers room which was full of resources related to specific types of cancer, and specific topics around cancer.

“We were also invited to attend a Look Good Feel Better workshop, run by Cancer Council volunteers.

“It was a beautiful morning where a group of women who were in various stages of cancer treatment could come together, learn about skincare and make up, and also chat and become friends.

“Without the support of the Cancer Council, there’s no way I’d be able to walk into the Cancer Centre at Westmead, and know I was going to be greeted by an endless number of friendly faces.

“(It) made becoming a Cancer Council volunteer such an easy choice to make because I personally knew the difference that a volunteer could make in the life of someone with cancer.”

Her advice is: “Life is short, and can change so quickly. We had a few touch and go moments during treatment where I was hospitalised, and it made me realise how much I still wanted to do and see. I’ve stopped putting things off until ‘tomorrow’ because we just never know how many ‘tomorrows’ we have left.”

On July 23 she heads back to Townsville and her Primary School class.