WHEN Nicola Laurence saddles up for the 200-kilometre Ride to Conquer Cancer later this month she will be a success story just by reaching the start line.
Ms Laurence was diagnosed with cancer in January 2007 and has just received the all-clear after her latest scans.
“I was diagnosed with a rare soft tissue synovial sarcoma located at the back of my knee,” she said.
“Interestingly my symptoms became apparent while out bike riding with my husband Brendan (Pendergast). The diagnosis was not good but my prognosis was even worse.
“The recommended treatment by a team of oncologists was a full leg amputation from the pelvis followed by intensive chemotherapy,” she said.
“I was advised that this treatment would give me a 70 per cent chance of surviving for five years but would make a prosthetic leg impossible.”
The second option was to scrape all the tissue out of her leg, retaining the skin and bones, and to rebuild the leg followed by intensive chemotherapy.
“The leg would be non-functioning but at least I would have a leg. If I took this course my chances of surviving for the next five years would decrease to 50 per cent,” she said.
“The third and least recommended option was to remove the tumour and then undergo seven weeks of intensive radiotherapy followed by six months of intensive chemotherapy which would reduce my chances of surviving five years to 30 per cent.”
Ms Laurence said the decision was a “no brainer”. “I decided that whatever time I had left I wanted to make sure I could make the most of it with two fully functioning legs. I elected to take option three,” she said.
“I am so pleased to be able to declare that five years on I have just received the all-clear on my last series of scans and I am not scheduled to return to the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre for another 12 months.
“The centre is the only hospital in Australia solely dedicated to people with cancer. It treats over 25,000 patients every year and is home to the largest cancer research centre in the southern hemisphere.”
But she said the centre could only continue to do this with outside financial support.
Ms Laurence and Mr Pendergast need to raise $2500 each to participate in the bike ride.
“Brendan and I have made a commitment to take part in a two-day Ride to Conquer Cancer. We will be riding 100km each day from Melbourne to the Yarra Valley and back,” she said.
To donate to the ride go to conquercancer.org.au