Mum’s COVID-hit cancer nightmare
Geelong mum Masayo Hobday's world was turned upside down when she discovered she had bowel cancer, while coronavirus border closures separated her from her husband.
Doctors later found the stage four cancer had spread to several other organs and she underwent a hysterectomy.
Mrs Hobday, 49, of Geelong West, now faces months of gruelling chemotherapy and an unknown future.
She first began experiencing symptoms, including blood in her stools, around March this year.
A GP referred Mrs Hobday to a specialist, and while blood tests did not identify anything, the specialist suggested a colonoscopy around late May.
Mrs Hobday was looking after her children, Hannah, 13, and Jack, 10, who has autism, alone at the time.
Husband Hamish was in Western Australia for work, with border closures meaning he was unable to fly home to support his wife.
Due to the difficult circumstances, Mrs Hobday put off the colonoscopy.
But in August, her symptoms worsened - she was in "heaps of pain" and vomiting.
Mrs Hobday had a colonoscopy, which identified a large tumour in her sigmoid colon, in September. She was told she had cancer the next day and referred straight to a surgeon.
"The hardest thing was my husband was still in WA," she said.
Days later she had surgery to remove the sigmoid colon tumour, but doctors discovered the cancer had spread to reproductive organs during the marathon operation.
Mrs Hobday said she woke in intensive care to find that, along with her tumour, her fallopian tubes, ovaries and uterus had been removed.
"They saved my life," she said.
"When I woke up, when the doctor told me those things happened, I was overwhelmed."
Mr Hobday landed in Victoria the day after the surgery to be by his wife's side and resigned from his job to care for his family during the challenging time.
Scans have found the cancer has spread to Mrs Hobday's liver, and she now faces multiple rounds of chemotherapy which began this week.
"It's still hard every day," she said. "Some days I feel like I'm dying."
Ms Hobday said the experience had been made particularly difficult by the coronavirus pandemic.
"Every day was just hard and too much when the kids were stuck at home," she said.
A friend has set up a GoFundMe page - called Friends of Masayo Hobday and family - to support the Hobdays.
Mrs Hobday said she was extremely thankful to the community for their support.
She urged anyone with health concerns to prioritise their health, and not delay check-ups and treatment.
"Don't be afraid," she said.
Originally published as Geelong mum's COVID-hit cancer nightmare