PAUL “PT” Taylor has lost the love of his life.
His wife Donna, who openly and honestly shared the ups and downs of her one-year battle with cervical cancer with complete strangers on Facebook, died yesterday morning aged 38.
Much of the Ballarat community followed the Taylors’ story via regular Facebook updates about Donna’s condition.
Yesterday was no different, with PT, a popular Ballarat radio announcer, posting a status just after 8.30am to say his beloved wife had died at 1.45am.
Within an hour, there were almost 400 comments and 750 likes on the post ... most from complete strangers who had been following the Taylors’ story on social media.
In a touching tribute to Donna, PT wrote on Facebook: “At 1.45am ... on a still clear night ... one star in particular shone bright ... that belonged to my beloved wife Donna Taylor. It’s a star that will always shine bright deep in my heart and for the rest of my life.”
PT spoke of his admiration for Donna, saying she fought a brave fight, winning many battles and reaching many goals.
“No matter where you are now I know you will always be close to me as I will always be close to you.”
By early evening yesterday, there were more than 700 comments and 2200 likes on PT’s post. Hundreds more people had written him personal messages of support and love on PT’s Facebook, as well as a tribute wall on The Courier website.
This rallying of the Ballarat community in recent months has stunned PT.
“The support shown to us over the last year has been incredible,” PT told The Courier yesterday.
“Both Donna and I have been thankful for the support received. (Through Facebook) we have made many new friends and we have learnt from other people on ways to handle the situation we have been going through.”
But it was Donna’s strength that really astounded PT.
“Donna has really taught me about love and about life,” he said. “She was one courageous girl ... my shining light.
“She was so sick last night, but she was still fighting, still raising her eyebrows and acknowledging she knew the people around her.”
Donna, who at the age of 26 was diagnosed with the heart condition Long QT Syndrome, was told early last year she had cervical cancer.
Surgery was not an option, so she underwent daily radiation therapy for six weeks, followed by chemotherapy and three brachy therapy treatments of invasive radiotherapy.
The initial treatment seemed to be working, but in September last year the Taylors were told Donna’s cancer had not only returned, but had spread.
Late last year, doctors told Donna she only had a few months to live. However, her sheer determination meant she reached certain milestones in the past few months including Christmas, PT’s birthday and their seventh wedding anniversary.
For the last month of Donna’s life, their loungeroom was turned into a makeshift hospital and she was cared for at home by PT and Hospice staff. Despite being heavily medicated, Donna’s sense of humour was never far from the surface, often raising her thumb, nodding her head or sticking out her tongue to let PT know she was still in there.
PT said he had no regrets about openly discussing Donna’s cancer on social media.
“It was through Facebook that we met so many other people going through this ordeal. We received a lot of help from these people and we were pleased that we, too, were able to help out others by sharing our journey,” PT said.
“If we helped someone in the smallest way, we are proud of that.”
Arrangements for Donna’s funeral will be finalised in coming days.