IT STARTED with a sore throat and turned into a seizure. A year later and Kristy Hunter is crossing her fingers she is past the pointy end of a horrendous rollercoaster ride.
On July 27 last year, then-28-year-old Kristy was told she had a brain tumour.
They didn't know how, they didn't know what; all doctors could tell her was that things did not look good.
Three units off becoming a school teacher, this was not news the diligent student and exercise fanatic wanted to hear.
"When they told me, I just thought about how I was going to tell people when I didn't even know what it was about," Kristy said.
She was quickly referred to a specialist on the Gold Coast who fed her family the spiel they most feared.
"He kept telling us that it was inoperable and to make the most of our time with her because there was nothing he could do," Kristy's mum Rosemariee said.
"I said she was hard to get - with troubles through pregnancy - so she's just being hard to keep."
Kristy was sent to the oncology unit in Lismore where she was straight into 33 fractions of radiation.
When that didn't work, doctors tried chemotherapy.
When that didn't work, options started to look scarce.
"The radiologist apologised that the treatment didn't work and when we saw a neurologist in Sydney, they said there was nothing they could do," Rosemariee said.
"So we started to have discussions about quality of life, rather than quantity."
But hope was not lost, and one phone call to Dr Charles Teo later and they were on a plane back to Sydney.
On April 30 this year, Rosemariee and Kristy - with only an overnight bag in hand - arrived at Dr Teo's practice, expecting him to dish out the same thing they had heard form the other specialists.
They were wrong.
"He said we're doing surgery and when Kristy asked when, he said 'yesterday'," Rosemariee said.
"With that, I had from 1.30-3.30pm to come up with $65,000 ... and we did it."
One phone call home was all it took for this Grafton family to get the cash they needed, thanks to supportive family and friends, and Kristy was booked in for her operation the very next day.
After eight hours of surgery and a white-knuckle wait, Kristy and her family were told Dr Teo was able to remove 80% of the large tumour and 100% of the smaller surrounding ones.
"He had to pull himself up at the speech area (of the brain) because he didn't want it to affect her speech," Rosemariee said.
Kristy started another round of chemo on Monday and awaits her next check-up in September.
If the treatment does not work, the next option is a heat treatment Dr Teo recommended.
"We just take it day by day," Rosemariee said.
Kristy's cousin Jessica McPherson has started a Facebook page for Kristy, encouraging people to hold fundraising events to help with ongoing medical costs.
"For 12 months we said no to taking any donations. We're old school and like to do it ourselves," Rosemariee said.
"We didn't want to put her in the paper and ask for sympathy votes or any- thing."
Kristy urged anyone who experienced regular head- aches or eye issues to get checked by a doctor immediately.
"You just don't know and getting checked is the only way to find out," Kristy said.
After selling their family home to pay for medical bills and stretching the bank account to its limit, Jessica thought it was time we all pitched in to give this local family the break they deserve.
The first fundraiser, the Kristy Hunter Charity Golf Day, will be held at the Grafton District Golf Club on August 25.
A shotgun start at 11am, it costs $25 a person to play and there are lots of prizes up for grabs.
To put your name down, phone the club on 6642 2255.
LIKE TO DONATE?
If you'd like to make a donation to the Kristy Leigh Hunter Trust, you can donate straight into this account:
- BSB: 082631
- Acc number: 946254319
- GG and RM Hunter