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17
May
2018

Why Iva Marra will Dine For a Cure

By Iva Marra

My beautiful mother Stevica is my everything. She is my biggest fan and everything she's done her whole life - she's done for me. She wanted me to be a good, educated, polite, elegant woman and she did everything in her power to get me there. I speak to her every day, no matter what. Even if it's for a minute, I need to hear her voice and she needs to hear mine. My favourite thing about my mum is how she always reminds me how proud she is of me. It's nice to hear that often.

Three years ago on my beautiful husband’s birthday, mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. I cried once, I knew she could beat this. 80% of women with it in Australia survive and mum was going to be in that percentage. Six months of chemotherapy and eight weeks of radiation every day, I was right. She was given the all clear. It took its toll on her though. It felt like I had lost 10% of her. 

 

She lived on the Gold Coast and I lived in Melbourne. We were always close regardless of distance but around the time of my wedding I noticed she was deteriorating. She couldn't walk as fast and wasn't as active. She didn't talk as much. I assumed life and her medication were taking their toll. 

 

A year and a half ago she moved to Melbourne to be closer to me and that was when I noticed even more deterioration. She wouldn't talk anymore. She wouldn't make conversation. Five years ago you couldn't shut her up and now she would only respond to questions. I kept asking her how she felt and what was wrong. She kept telling me she was fine. I was petrified. Where did my fabulous, bubbly, intelligent mother go? She would say "I'm getting old and maybe I'm getting dementia" which I wouldn't accept it as an answer. All my friends mums were okay and social and active. Why is my mum different?

 

By now I was getting really concerned and I took her to the doctor again. He cut the medication she was now on by half and I monitored her for improvement, but she just carried on deteriorating. Then on one of our regular shopping and coffee trips on a Saturday morning, mum collapsed but I managed to catch her. I’d had enough and took her straight to emergency. Again, they put it down to age and after another GP visit, we were back to reduced medication and observation. We were told to report back the following week. 

 

In that time, mum had another more serious fall. She needed a CT scan of her head, and I didn’t need medical training to know that her brain did not look how a healthy brain was supposed to look. Mum had a brain tumour. 

 

Two days later and she’s being operated on at Royal Melbourne Hospital. I remember saying to the doctors and nurses ‘you need to save her’. Well, luckily, we were in the hands of the amazing Dr Tanya Yuen at Royal Melbourne Hospital, who is the most compassionate, caring surgeon I have ever met. Mum’s first surgery didn’t go well, but the team went back in a second time to remove 90% of the tumour, and after that second surgery, we got mum back. She was laughing and talking and crying at adverts on the TV again. 

 

Things were pretty good until November, but then we found out that mum’s cancer was back, and this time it’s not responding to chemo. She hasn’t done well since that point, and we’re at the point now where we’re considering our options. She sleeps around 17 hours a day, but she gets out of bed every day to come and play with my daughter.

This whole experience with brain cancer has made me angry, upset and determined to do something to beat it. Of course, I jumped on to Facebook and saw the Dine For a Cure event on Cure Brain Cancer Foundation’s page. I immediately signed up for a table with my friends and family. I want to be a part of this event to help fund research to find a cure for someone else’s mum in the future. 

The past few years have been so hard for our family. We’ve learnt so much about this disease in such a small amount of time, and the one thing I am sure of is that it’s time we found a cure. If anyone else is out there reading my story and going through a similar thing, no matter how bad things get, there is always hope. Keep fighting, live, laugh and love every moment. 

See you at Dine For a Cure.

Iva x

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