It’s currently Ovarian Cancer Awareness month and raising awareness about this silent killer, is Australia’s longest running TV show, Neighbours, with a heartbreaking storyline about one of the show’s major characters – Sonya Rebecchi.
In a very tragic and moving story, the writers manage to address the many, varying, emotional and physical tolls cancer has on us and our loved ones, with actors Eve Morey and Ryan Moloney giving some truly gut-wrenching performances. There’s barely a scene that hasn’t made our eyes water.
Sonya was diagnosed in the aftermath of a crazy nanny’s attempt to poison her. When the symptoms of her poisoning persisted long after the saga had ended, Sonya found herself in hospital with this nightmare of a diagnosis.
IRL, two out of three women have never even heard of ovarian cancer before they’re diagnosed.
Like with anything death, dying and grief-related, it’s like a punch to the gut for those immediately affected. Like you’re standing still while the rest of the world keeps selfishly moving. Queue the slew of responses – emotional and practical – that may or may not be right because who really knows what’s right in this situation.
Like blame. Toadie is not the first person to blame a GP (just look at his eyes!) for not picking up on symptoms that many women take for granted, because those symptoms are bloating, pelvic pain, fatigue, the need to urinate often and so forth. Seriously! That’s every 28 days! (Don’t freak out, see the symptoms here).
Cancer patients often feel like they have to be strong for others, which is why Sonya sought Karl out privately, without Toadie, for a very honest prognosis, which was – ‘buying time’. Sonya cried, then Karl cried, then we cried.
There’s no early detection test for ovarian cancer, and women often aren’t diagnosed until it’s in a late stage. When you read the list of symptoms, you can see why :/
Initially, Sonya and Toadie decided to keep the diagnosis to themselves. People sometimes do this because they don’t want to be treated differently or be defined by cancer. But at the same time, they might have lower tolerance for everyone’s everyday carelessness. It soon became clear Toadie wasn’t coping.
So they told their immediate family and they all stood around looking stoic while crying at the same time. Most people don’t know what to do or say in this situation. The Rebecchis faced it, and they felt it. And it was moving AF.
Nothing works quite like mortality when you need the courage to do what you believe is right. Like demanding full custody of your husband’s lovechild from a lunatic whose mother tried to poison you.
And few warriors are as fierce as mothers trying to protect their children from things that might hurt them. Even if their chemo is making them want to hurl on that kid’s first day at school.
Treatment is expensive. The Erinsborough community rallied around Sonya and Toadie, raising funds to help them cover costs. And then their eldest son Callum showed up and we all lost it weeping at our desks.
Organisations like Cancer Council can help with the financial burden.
How do you talk to your kids about your own mortality? The cancer council has some tips here.
Three women die from ovarian cancer every day. On that same day, four will be diagnosed.
Teal ribbon day is Wednesday February 27. You can donate or buy a teal ribbon here