Bad headaches and extreme tiredness were proving bothersome for Dy Hills in January last year, but she wrote it off as stress. Even when the family brought to her attention that she was having blank moments and speaking some ‘unreal words’, she didn’t take it seriously. So when diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour on the 23rd of March 2018, it came as a shock.
“The day before, I left work (with the Medical Service Group at the Townsville Hospital) at about 4pm,” Dy recalls.
“I was in bed and asleep by 5pm with another headache. I went to work the next day again but, by lunch time, the headache had returned.”
Although her colleague and friend Amie encouraged Dy to go home, she decided to stick it out.
“I just remember being held against the wall so I wouldn’t fall over after I had apparently done a bit of a disco dance,” Dy says.
“They then organised me a chair to sit on, and a couple of doctors came to talk to me, but I don’t remember any of that.”
Amie was advised to take Dy to the emergency department and, fortunately, she was in the right place at the right time for an accurate diagnosis.
“By about 5pm, after an MRI and PET scans, I was told I could have one of three types of cancer,” Dy says.
“I was in the hospital for four days as the diagnosis was narrowed down to a Grade 4 brain tumour – Epithelioid Glioblastoma. And that’s when I was told: ‘Dy, you have six to 18 months to live. Go home and do whatever you want!’
“As I wasn’t even 50 with two young adult children, the diagnosis certainly put a different perspective on life. Given a timeframe for this life certainly changes your view of your daily priorities.”
After Dy’s first surgery on the 29th of March 2018, she was encouraged to contact Dr Charlie Teo to see if he might take her case on.
By mid-May Dr Teo’s office had called to say he could potentially help. Dy’s excitement at this prospect was quickly followed by fear when Dr Teo advised her tumour had doubled in size since her first surgery two months before. On the 23rd of May, Dy was in operation again, and the fantastic news is that Dr Teo was able to remove the entire tumour.
“With Charlie operating on me, my lifespan increased to five years at that time,” Dy says.
“Now I have scans every three months here in Townsville to make sure the tumour isn’t growing back.
“I still get very tired, and I’ve had to discover a new level of ‘normality’ but so far, so good following a long period of radiation and chemo.
“I’m very grateful to the wonderful Townsville Hospital clan for my first surgery and for continuing to look after me. And, of course, Charlie has my eternal gratitude.”
Dy’s Dad, Col, also had cancer and, sadly, passed away a couple of years before her own diagnosis. He was a very active Lions Member for close to 40 years in Charters Towers, Emerald and Townsville. The last club he was with was Townsville Cleveland Bay and, in honour of him, they created the ‘Shoot for a Cause’ competition.
“Last year, I was truly blessed when the Lions Club decided to donate the day’s profits to the Charlie Teo Foundation as they were aware of his great work and the benefit he had brought to my family and me,” Dy says.
“If DUO readers could also support Dr Teo and his Foundation, that would be brilliant!”
And Dy has this final hard-learned advice for DUO readers as well: “If you have headaches and are very tired, get yourself checked out. Be good to yourself!”
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