Vanessa Picinini's Story
Most of you who attended the 2010 Annual Gala Dinner this year would have been introduced to the lovely Vanessa Picinini. Vanessa bravely spoke of her cancer and treatment to give us an insight into her situation and how The Lynne King Cancer Care Foundation and all of it's donors could help her and many others like Vanessa.
At the age of twenty, Vanessa was in her final year of university. Suffering from a bad case of tonsillitis, she visited her doctor who did a routine blood test. The results revealed that Vanessa was suffering from Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia. This complaint is virtually unheard of in persons within Vanessa’s age group.
Vanessa is now twenty-three and during the intervening three years she has been routinely subjected to regular tests, scans, x-rays, biopsies and other small procedures. Still the Leukemia has continued to progress. Her immune system is now so compromised that she is affected by the smallest of infections resulting in her having to reduce her hours of work.
In an effort to strengthen her immune system she undergoes monthly blood transfusions. Currently it looks like this procedure may need to be continued for the rest of her life.
Her blood counts deteriorated, the leukemic cells continued to multiply rapidly and her lymph glands were all significantly enlarged. This results on most days in her having to be on pain killers just to make it through the day. She has no alternative now but to start chemotherapy.
Unfortunately, although gazetted to come on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in November 2011, the chemotherapy drugs she needs are currently not subsidised by the government. Consequently, she is now faced with finding in excess of $20,000 for her treatments plus daily living expenses whilst undergoing treatment.
We were overwhelmed with the amount of donations, well wishes and enquiries we had of Vanessa after the fundraising night so we wanted to make a special effort to keep all of you up to date with how her treatment is going.
The Lynne King Cancer Care Foundation, together with Vanessa's family and friends and many personal and corporate donors, managed to raise enough money to ensure that Vanessa was able to afford her treatments and fight her way back to good health.
Vanessa sent us a special note to share with you all on where she is at today:
"Dear my Lynne King Cancer Care Foundation friends,
I'm happy to report that after five rounds of chemotherapy all is going fantastic - the chemo is working better than the doctor had anticipated and it looks like after my final round of chemo in December I'll be in remission for hopefully 8-10 years! I have been fortunate to have tolerated the chemo extremely well, I didn't loose my hair and have managed to lead a normal life and feel well (most of the time) - an infection saw me hospitalised for a few days, but apart from that I'm grateful that the most I've suffered has been from extreme tiredness. It's been a rollercoaster ride emotionally of highs and lows, but now I'm feeling better, happier and looking forward to 2011 and beyond and being cancer free. Thank you to everybody who has supported me and sent me well wishes and to Reg, for just being there (even when I wasn't up for chatting). I am proud to call myself a cancer survivor!
Vanessa has also stressed that she is looking forward to joining the family here at the Lynne King Cancer Care Foundation in the future, to help us help people like her.