Parkes woman Emma Sinclair inspiring others with brain cancer journey

WHAT AN INSPIRATION: Parkes woman Emma Sinclair is doing her best to raise money for brain cancer research, despite going through the disease herself. Photo: SUPPLIED.

WHAT AN INSPIRATION: Parkes woman Emma Sinclair is doing her best to raise money for brain cancer research, despite going through the disease herself. Photo: SUPPLIED.

It's been a difficult year for many, and for some more than others - but one woman is inspiring many as she tries to make the best of a bad situation.

Parkes preschool teacher Emma Sinclair, a young, spritely and healthy has spent over 100 days in hospital over the last year with a very rare brain tumour.

12 months ago, Emma was diagnosed with brain cancer, specifically a polycystic astrocytoma with anaplastic transformation, after being rushed to Sydney by plane.

She was turned away from the Parkes Hospital's Emergency Department many times, until one doctor, Dr Nimesh Piyatissa, called a neurosurgeon and it was decided Emma needed an MRI.

The next day the Radiologist called and told Emma to go straight to the Parkes Hospital.

As soon as she got there, they ushered her into the room and informed her that a growth was found on her brain, and they were worried she'd have a seizure due to the huge amount of pressure on her brain.

That afternoon Emma was flown by plane to Sydney, with the situation deemed so serious that she couldn't be driven in case she had a seizure en-route.

She was operated on at Westmead Private the next day, and expected to spend around 10 days in hospital, but unfortunately that did not turn out to be the case.

Emma was told they couldn't get all the tumour and there was still some left, and she was also told it was cancer.

It took days for her brain, which was under a lot of pressure, to drain properly, and Emma eventually had two shunts, a small tube that drains excess cerebrospinal fluid, put in.

Despite a short stint in a ward, continual setbacks meant Emma spent the majority of her hospital stay in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

All up, she spent 106 days in hospital with over 90 in ICU, with multiple, and very rare, brain and stomach infections complicating the situation as well.

Fortunately Emma doesn't remember much of her time in hospital, but was full of praise for the amazing care and empathy of the ICU staff at Westmead Private.

Unfortunately though, her brain cancer is incurable.

It can be treated with chemotherapy, which Emma does herself at home with a tablet, but it is something she may need off and on for the rest of her life.

Emma is determined to make the most of her situation, though, and raise awareness for a disease that many people aren't aware of.

"I can't control the fact I have brain cancer, but I can control how I respond to it," she said earlier this week.

I can't control the fact I have brain cancer, but I can control how I respond to it.

Emma Sinclair

"I still have a long road ahead but my God I've come a long way," said Emma.

Emma feels incredibly fortunately to be treated by Dr Piyatissa, who she credits with saving her life.

"When I went back to the Emergency Department after the MRI I saw Nimesh, and he was straight on the phone to my neurosurgeon in Sydney.

"I've taught both of his kids, and I credit him with saving my life.

"I was able to message his wife on Facebook and tell him how appreciative I was, and what a wonderful man he was, and obviously she agreed!" Emma said.

Sadly for Emma, she can't work at Parkes Early Childhood Centre (PECC) yet, with her prognosis

"With the type of tumour I've got even, if it does appear smaller on a scan, it can come back at any time and it can come back more aggressively.

"I can't work at PECC at the moment, because I was told by doctors I'd need to wait until at least two years after surgery," said Emma.

It's not a nice situation to imagine, but Emma has a brilliant support team around her, and she said that she can't imagine what she'd do without them.

"CanAssist has paid for my treatment and given petrol vouchers and those sorts of things, I talk via video chat to my Oncologist in Orange every month and I go down to Westmead to see my amazing Neurosurgeon every three months.

"Mum has also been a huge help, she has dropped everything to help me and I'm living with her in Forbes at the moment," Emma said.

Emma explains that more can be done to educate our nation on brain cancer.

"Many people don't know that brain cancer kills more children than any other disease in Australia," she said.

"It also kills more people under 40 in Australia than any other cancer; yet very little is known about it, its causes or how to treat it.

"Brain cancer receives less than five per cent of federal government cancer research funding.

"There's just not a lot that has been done research-wise, and the prognosis hasn't changed over the last 30 years or so, which is why we need to raise money for research," Emma said.

So what will this inspiring woman be doing to help change that?

Despite the avid walker not being at full fitness, and needing to use a walker, she is walking 10 kilometres around Lake Forbes this Sunday to raise money for future research, so more is known about the disease - and how to treat it.

So far she has raised over $5500, with the whole Walk4BrainCancer fundraising drive reaching over $1 million.

So while life isn't exactly easy right now, Emma is doing her best to make the most out of a bad situation, and boy is she doing that.

To donate to Emma's cause, and help raise money for brain cancer research, head to https://my.walk4braincancer.com.au/virtual-2021/team-emma.

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