Mater nurses create memories for mum battling incurable cancer

19/Dec/2022     Cancer ServicesMater Group

A Brisbane nurse and mother of two is aiming to create special memories with her partner and two young sons after being told by doctors her cancer is incurable.

Diagnosed with an aggressive triple-negative breast cancer, Mater Cancer Care patient Melanie Thackeray was six months pregnant when doctors delivered the “shocking news”.

The heartbroken 32-year-old Richlands mother-of-two, who has stage four cancer, said she was focussed on cherishing her time left with her partner Dhrey and sons Elijah, 20 months old, and Noah, five months old.

“I am sad because my boys won’t remember me, they’re just too young,” Ms Thackeray said.

“The cancer is spreading rapidly to my lymph nodes, bones and liver – it’s incurable.”

Ms Thackeray, who said she may only have months to live, is creating precious memories with her young family this festive season, taking photos and spending time at beaches and parks.

The nurses who have been by her side during her cancer journey have organised a birthday party for Ms Thackeray, acknowledging the courageous battle she continues to fight.

“Anywhere we are all together, makes me happy. I am trying to maximise the time I have left with my young family,” Ms Thackeray said.

Recently, the nursing team at the Mater Cancer Care Centre, led by coordinator and Clinical Nurse Consultant Esther White, held a party to celebrate Ms Thackeray’s upcoming birthday and recognise her bravery during her difficult cancer journey.

Ms White said it was important to celebrate the “everyday things in life”.

“Mel is facing a life-limiting prognosis and we want to celebrate with those who have cared for her and the life she had prior to her diagnosis,” Ms White said.

Ms Thackeray said she felt humbled by the celebration and was appreciative of the care she had received from the medical team at the Mater Cancer Care Centre, Mater Mothers’ Hospital and the Mater Centre for Maternal Fetal Medicine, who guided her through her pregnancy with baby Noah.

“The team have always checked in on me,” she said.

“I had huge anxiety about having chemotherapy while pregnant with Noah, we had so much scanning and monitoring but the team reassured me every step of the way.”

Mater Cancer Care Centre Senior Medical Oncologist Dr Catherine Shannon said Ms Thackeray’s  cancer had spread rapidly following her pregnancy with baby Noah and was “challenging” to treat.

“We didn’t know she was stage four until Noah was born because there were some tests we couldn’t perform while she was pregnant,” Dr Shannon said.

Ms Thackeray hopes her family remember her for her “love and gentle nature”.

Ms Thackeray started chemotherapy treatment only two weeks after her cancer diagnosis and said she became “very sick” from ongoing treatment, forcing her to give up working as a nurse at Brisbane nursing home.

It was in April that she found a lump in one of her breasts and thought it was a cyst.

“I went to my GP straightaway and was sent for an ultrasound,” Ms Thackeray said.

“I was shocked when doctors told me I had cancer – I am heartbroken but living every day knowing I have my little family with me.”

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