News

Brave face of courage after battle with throat cancer

WARM WELCOME: Oliver Tuck of Lismore and his son Jack, 4, were at the Lismore Airfield to meet his mother Margaret Spain, who was flown home by medical plane after treatment for cancer in Sydney.
WARM WELCOME: Oliver Tuck of Lismore and his son Jack, 4, were at the Lismore Airfield to meet his mother Margaret Spain, who was flown home by medical plane after treatment for cancer in Sydney. Cathy Adams

FOR someone who has just lost the ability to speak fully Margaret "Santo" Spain still has plenty to laugh about.

Ms Spain touched down in Lismore last week via air ambulance from Sydney's Royal Alfred Hospital after undergoing life-saving surgery to remove deadly throat cancer.

It all started just four months ago when Ms Spain saw a doctor about what felt like a soy bean in her throat.

The GP was shocked by what he found, correctly identifying it as cancer before even taking a biopsy.

She was rushed to the Royal Alfred Hospital in Sydney where specialist surgeons with experience in the delicate task of removing the throat cancer were available.

A second biopsy delivered two blows. Firstly the cancer had spread fast and doctors would likely need to remove Ms Spain's larynx in the operation, meaning she would lose her voice.

Secondly the cancer was also found to be the extremely rare anaplastic cancer, which spreads so fast it's fatal in most cases.

"Usually people don't find out until it's too late," Ms Spain said.

Surgeons spent 10 hours removing the cancer after opening up her throat "from ear to ear" and cutting out several lymph nodes, her thyroid, her larynx, and her trachea.

Laryngectomy recoverees rely on a stoma in their neck to help them breathe and speak - another consequence is they cannot swim as water will travel into the stoma, potentially drowning them.

Being almost voiceless is a devastating and very permanent change, but Ms Spain - a well known natural child birth educator who ran the former Birth Education Centre at Lindendale for 10 years - has embraced her new life with optimism.

And she's happy to cover her stoma with a finger and push out just enough air to express herself.

"I've kept my humour throughout," she chuckled.

Son Oliver Tuck said the last few months had been a shock for everyone who knew his mum.

"She's been very helpful to a lot of people in her life... there's a lot of support for her in the community."

"For anyone else dealing with cancer, I feel for them and wish them well."

Helping, automatically

One side effect of Ms Spain's surgery was a painful shoulder condition which may have been caused by nerve damage.

It has meant Ms Spain is no longer able to drive her old manual car, but thanks to efforts by her son Oliver Tuck, family and friends came together to raise a few thousand dollars to try to buy her a small automatic.

They are now hoping a local car dealership might be able to assist by offering a discount used vehicle.

Messages of support can be sent to margaretsantospain@gmail.com

Topics:  cancer health



Help Byron band clean up our beaches this week

In Hearts Wake peform at The Northern in Byron Bay.

Find out how to register your interest

How to find elusive Woolworths' Super Discs

Woolworths Marvel Heroes Super Discs are the latest craze in collectibles.

How far would you go to collect all 42 Woolworths' Super Discs?

Flood relief grants welcome news for council

Fixing roads. Richmond Valley Council.

Disaster recovery assistance for roads damaged, on its way

Local Partners

Wonder Woman is a kick-arse superhero romp

WITH so much at stake, thank Zeus that Wonder Woman didn’t fall into the same trap as its DC Extended Universe predecessors.

Everything coming to Netflix, Stan, Foxtel and Amazon Prime Video this June

Orange Is The New Black returns for another season.

Find out what's being added to our streaming services in June.

Sam Armytage and Tom Cruise? Saaaaay what?

Apparently, the answer is no.

Musical tribute to flood volunteers released

Songwriter honours flood volunteers who helped their neighbours.

Lismore songwriter Simon Thomas was moved by strangers' kindness

Karl Stefanovic's rant about Schapelle Corby 'a bit rich'

Karl Stefanovic is sick of hearing about Schapelle Corby.

Maybe he just wanted to make himself the story.

Could Schapelle be heading for Gladstone?

Australian Schapelle Corby is escorted by Bali Police at the parole office in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, 27 May 2017.

Schapelle's mother teases her free daughter could be Gladstone bound

Six things you never knew about Men in Black

Mushu the pug

It's been 20 years since Men in Black first hit cinemas

This is real estate's billion-dollar man

Bob Wolff at AREC with John McGrath of McGrath Real Estate.

They don’t call him the “Billion dollar man” for nothing

Man's amazing comeback from monster crisis

Pat O'Driscoll agents Penny Keating and Doug Webber sold 56 Agnes St, The Range at auction over the weekend.

NOT long ago, he sold his possessions to pay staff. Now he's back.

Here's your chance to carp about feral pests

Carp might by great fun to catch but they're destroying Australia's watercourses.

Science in the Pub looks at carp and coral trees

SNEAK PEEK: What new shopping centre is going to look like

Artist impression of the proposed redevelopment of the cinema and shopping complex on Jonson St, Byron Bay.

Mercato billed as regional NSW's most sustainable shopping complex

How Toowoomba house prices compare in Australia

For sale sign in front of home.

Here's what $700,000 will buy you in Toowoomba, Brisbane and Sydney

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!