When Lismore school teacher Jake Roff was diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of 41 in early 2015, his wife Kelly, and children Maisie and Lachie, knew the road ahead would be tough.
Despite the prognosis for Jake’s cancer – an aggressive form known as a GBM - Kelly maintained an open approach with young Maisie and Lachie, who were just five and six at the time.
“I was always honest with them. Daddy was sick, and the doctors are trying to make Daddy better,” Kelly explained. During his nine months of chemotherapy and radiation, Maisie and Lachie were always by his side, even as he received his treatment injections.
Six weeks into his treatment, Jake’s condition hadn’t improved, and two new tumours were detected in his brain.
The following months of treatment took a toll.
“Because of the location of the tumour, it was affecting everything that made him Jake,” said Kelly.
Jake with Lachie and Maisie
Jake’s condition deteriorated, and he was placed into palliative care. For Kelly, the talks between herself, the kids, and the nurses became a lot more serious.
“I remember the nurses saying to me, ‘Kelly, he’s going to die, he’s going to die soon’. I had to go home and tell the kids that the medicine had stopped working.”
Soon after, Kelly and the children said their final goodbyes.
“We all sat on Jake’s bed, and we all held hands, and we told each other how much we loved each other”.
Over two years on, Kelly and the children remember and talk about Jake every day.
“He was my most favourite person in the whole world, and I miss him every day.”
To honour Jake, and to help others living with brain cancer, both now and in the future, Kelly and her family will be taking part in Walk4BrainCancer Canberra on November 12.
“It gives you hope,” says Kelly.
This year, Walk4BrainCancer Canberra is aiming to raise $50,000 for brain cancer research and advocacy, and the many walks around the country have already raised more than $1 million since August.
Donate to Kelly's Walk4BrainCancer