Roz pleas for help as brain cancer threat grows
ROZ Harper is in the fight of her life.
The bubbly 37-year-old mother of three from Tewantin has brain cancer and is currently undergoing her second round of intensive chemotherapy after discovering that her tumour is growing.
Yet despite having to take two different types tablets and another drug via drip as part of her current PCV chemotherapy treatment, Roz is proving her strength by continuing to look after her three daughters, aged 17, 15 and 12, and drag herself to work in customer care five days a week.
"I'm still working to keep myself busy as when I stop I get really emotional and just want to cry all day," she said. "I also think it's good for my brain to get it working.
"But the chemo makes me feel really sick. And it's not a standard tumour so the doctors don't really know what to do or whether my symptoms are normal."
Roz was first diagnosed with brain cancer in 2009 when she was just 30-years-old after a redback spider bite caused her to seek medical help after she lost feeling in both her hands.
Unfortunately scans revealed that it wasn't the bite which was causing the trouble, but a tumour in her brain.
"The doctors told me that redback spider saved my life. It hadn't of bitten me and they hadn't of found the tumour, they told me I wouldn't be here today," Roz said.
Soon after, instead of being able to plan for the upcoming fifth birthday of her youngest child Molly, Roz found herself in Royal Brisbane Woman's Hospital as doctors tried to remove her tumour.
However, Roz's tumour is now a grade 3 anaplastic oligoastrocytoma, which means it could not be completely removed through surgery due to its star-like shape that causes it to spread through the layers of the brain.
It is so rare that only 5% of people with brain cancer have the same type of tumour, and so little is known about it that Roz was asked to participant in a research program linked with doctors in Germany to monitor and study her progress.
A year later doctors discovered the tumour was growing, so Roz underwent six-weeks of radiation which, while it caused her to feel terribly ill and lose large patches of her hair, did halt the tumour's growth.
Now, as the family prepares to celebrate Molly's 12th birthday, Roz and her husband Jon, who is a carpenter with Noosaville-based Gull Brothers Cabinet Makers, find themselves making the journey back and forth from Brisbane for treatment after scans revealed the tumour has grown in size to 14.8mm by 13.9mm.
When first diagnosed, the tumour measured just 2.3mm.
"It always seems to be around her [Molly's] birthday. That's why she has always just asked and wanted to be with her family. This is the first year she's having a party."
On Thursday, Roz began to have severe pain in her face, with aching teeth and tongue making it difficult for her to eat
"The doctors think it [the tumour] may be growing again, so I will have to go to Brisbane again early next week for another MRI.
"I'm worried - especially today," Roz said, trying to hold back the tears.
"I'd just like to get more awareness of brain cancer out there. Everyone talks about breast cancer and things like that, but you can't live without your brain.
"They don't know what causes brain cancer and that's what frustrates me."
Family and friends have been rallying around the family, with a GoFundMe page having been set up to help with the expense of Roz's treatment.
She has already had to knock back one medication, Avastin, which was recommended by her doctors, as it would have cost $20,640 for just one round of treatment.