The couple, who live in Blackall, south-east of Longreach in outback Queensland, now have two children under five, and Tony continues to outlive doctor’s expectations. Samantha said that ovarian cancer is never normally found until an advanced stage, so they were extremely lucky to have found it early.
Tony’s terminal diagnosis led them to try for children, which led to the discovery of Samantha’s cancer.
Their world first turned upside down when they were on a motorbiking holiday in 2019. Tony had been working as a shearer on a sheep station, and Samantha was working as a wool classer.
One morning, Tony woke up covered in sweat and started vomiting. Samantha called an ambulance, and after being sent home twice, they eventually took Tony to hospital in Chinchilla.
He was later flown by helicopter to Brisbane, where they operated on him within 24 hours. Tony was out of the hospital four days later.
The couple had planned to have children eventually, but the doctors told them they had only three weeks before Tony started treatment.
Samantha fell pregnant almost immediately, but at her 12-week scan, doctors discovered a tumour on her left ovary, which was early-stage ovarian cancer. She had surgery to remove the ovary and fallopian tube at 14 weeks. Dr Nimithri Cabraal, a gynaecological oncologist at Mater Hospital Brisbane, removed the ovary and tube to prevent the cancer from spreading. Despite the risks, baby Wyatt was born healthy in June 2020.
Samantha fell pregnant again at the start of 2022, and Aspen was born in September of that year. However, the day after Aspen was born, the couple received devastating news: Tony had another tumour. Doctors operated in November 2022, and Tony is currently undergoing a six-month course of treatment, traveling back and forth to Brisbane for his chemotherapy every three months.
Tony is considered a long-term survivor because life expectancy for his type of cancer is a maximum of 12-14 months at best. He celebrates his 55th birthday soon.
Despite his condition, Tony remains positive and strong, which Samantha believes is keeping him alive. She said that it takes something like what they have been through to make one realize how precious it is to wake up and spend the day together as a family.