“If you can do something, you should do something.”
Greg and Karen were the perfect illustration of the saying “opposites attract” – her quiet, kind and loving soul complimented Greg’s loud, outgoing larrikinism.
After only four years of marriage, their happy life with their beloved 16 month old son, Mark, was suddenly derailed. Karen began experiencing a sore back when bending down and infections in her fingers, among a host of other unusual symptoms. Initially, no medical explanation could be found, but her symptoms got progressively worse, with nausea and vomiting.
A bone marrow sample confirmed that Karen had multiple myeloma.
She was only 37 years old when she received this shocking news. Following Karen’s diagnosis, eight months of intensive chemotherapy treatment followed. Two bone marrow transplants were performed, and eventually, life appeared to be back on track. The family was looking forward to their future again.
But in November 1996, the myeloma returned.
Chemotherapy, that had initially outsmarted the “educated tumour”, ceased to work and by Mothers’ Day the following year Karen’s health was in a critical state.
“By that stage, she had gone downhill fairly quickly,” Greg recalls. In the first week of June 1997, chemotherapy was discontinued.
On 7 June, Karen was admitted to hospital with a very high temperature. Only a week later, it was her young son, Mark’s, sixth birthday and he came to the hospital to open his gifts with mum.
“The last words she spoke to Mark were ‘Happy birthday’,” Greg says.
And then, the following day, Karen passed away.
In a shocking twist for the family that had already endured so much, 2003 and 2011 both saw Greg undergo treatments for brain tumours. Both were successfully removed, but the challenges and worries for Greg and Mark have been unrepentant.
Greg, Karen and their son, Mark
Now, more than two decades after Karen’s passing, the loss is still deeply felt by Greg and Mark.
In the hope of sparing other people the pain Greg has gone through, he has chosen to leave a gift in his will to Cancer Council NSW. Greg says, “If you can do something, you should do something”. In fact, he’s particularly passionate about supporting research funded by Cancer Council NSW, seeing it as one of the keys to more people having the same success in treatment as he has had, and fewer people going through what Karen had to experience.
Such gifts mean a world of difference to researchers working towards a cancer free future. If you would like to leave a gift in your will or find out more, please email the Gifts in Wills Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us on (02) 9334 1479.