THE Ballarat community is rallying behind a young mother struck down with a rare and inoperable cervical cancer only months after giving birth to her fourth child.
A fundraiser is being organised for Angie Edwards’ family – her husband of eight years Brett and their four children aged between six years and 18 weeks – to help them financially after Mrs Edwards was diagnosed with cancer late last year.
The ferocity of the cancer has astounded Melbourne specialists. They have told the 31-year-old, who is already bedridden in hospital, there is no cure.
In just a matter of weeks, Mrs Edwards (nee Clifford) has gone from a vivacious woman who was busy looking after her growing family, to being unable to complete even the simplest of tasks, such as getting in and out of bed.
Just 18 weeks ago, the Edwards family was celebrating the birth of their fourth child.
It had been an easy pregnancy and an uncomplicated labour, but their new son Tristan was rushed to Melbourne’s Monash Medical Centre after he was born not breathing. Soon after, doctors gave Tristan the all-clear to go home and the Edwards, who met and fell in love while at school, returned to their busy lives of raising their little brood, believing the worst was over.
However, four weeks later their world was turned upside down when Mrs Edwards was diagnosed with the rare and very aggressive form of inoperable cervical cancer.
Her husband has been given leave from his job at MaxiTRANS to look after the children, and her mother Kerry McNeight has also taken leave from her job at Ballarat Health Services to be there for her daughter.
The first sign something was wrong came four weeks after Tristan’s birth, when Mrs Edwards complained of a sore neck, believing she had slept the wrong way.
It was initially thought to be an infected cyst, but an ultrasound showed it was a blood clot. She was immediately hospitalised and, after many tests, a biopsy showed it was cervical cancer.
Doctors first told Mrs Edwards a hysterectomy and radiation treatment would be the answer.
Further investigations by a top Melbourne surgeon showed that operating to remove the cancer, which was not responding to chemotherapy or radiotherapy, was not an option as it was too large and wrapped around organs.
“We were told a couple of days before Christmas that there was no cure. They sent Angie home and we all fell to pieces,” Mrs Edwards’ mother said. “We tried to make it a nice Christmas for the kids, but it was very hard.”
Mrs McNeight said before the diagnosis, her daughter was a very independent woman.
“She was the best mum I know ... nothing would faze her,” she said. “At the moment, the odds are stacked against her, but we need to stay positive, to keep our hopes up.
“Some days are easier than others but we have to power on for the children.”
Mrs Edwards’ biggest concern for the future is how her husband will deal with the financial strain her illness has caused. The family is receiving Centrelink payments, but there is still a worry for their financial future.
Friends and family have organised a fundraising auction for Friday, February 28 at Jackson’s and Co, 201 Mair Street, Ballarat.
Dress code is wear something glittery or sparkly. Cost is $30. For more information call Kelly Wakeling on 0409 871 251 or Rachael Mahoney on 0412 223 608.
An NAB bank account has also been sent up for the Edwards family. Anyone who wants to make a donation can go into an NAB branch and quote BSB: 083 532 account number 397507917.