Lifestyle

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



Commercial fishers get extension, but it makes no difference

Ballina trawler harbour.

Deadline extended for NSW fishers buying back into the industry

Sex attacker slapped with strict supervision upon release

Violent sex offender's life after jail no walk in the park

Boogie woogie beauty took the world by storm

The grave of Winifred Atwell  at the Memorial gardens at South Gundurimba.

Photo Jacklyn Wagner / The Northern Star

International star who wanted to be buried on the Northern Rivers

Local Partners

David Attenborough on facing his mortality

Sir David Attenborough in a scene from the TV special The Death of the Oceans.

Life without Sir David Attenborough is hard to imagine

Goooodbye Hamish and Andy (from our radios)

Hamish and Andy

The pair have been on air since 2006

Saying "I do" changed Shia's outlook on marriage

Shia LaBeouf has a new outlook on marriage since he tied the knot.

Singer tunes in to first movie role

Tori Kelly voices the character Meena in the movie Sing.

Musician Tori Kelly voices Meena the teenage elephant in Sing

Cricketing greats bring Aussie mateship to commentary box

Cricket commentator Adam Gilchrist.

ADAM Gilchrist enjoys the fun of calling the Big Bash League.

The dead help solve the case

Debut novel delivers on wit, violence and shock

Chinese locked out of Australian property market

The rules are different if you're a foreigner

The buyer was from China - the trouble started right there

Morrison signs off on new affordable rental model

Australia's Treasurer Scott Morrison speaks during a press conference after a meeting of the Council of Federal Financial Relations at Parliament House in Canberra, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016.

Scott Morrison signed off on development of a new financing model

Coast high-flyer's fight back from bankruptcy, $72m debt

Scott Juniper went from millionaire developer to declaring bankruptcy in2012, now he is back on top of his game again with new developments including this one in Coolum.

'Apocalyptic lending storm' causes financial collapse.

How your home can earn you big $$$$ this Christmas

This luxury Twin Waters home rents out over Christmas for more than $6000 a week.

Home owners earning thousands renting out their homes this Christmas

2000 jobs at multi-million dollar Ipswich project

INSIDE: Artist's impressions of the interior of the new Eastern Heights aged care precinct.

Sub-contractors needed to build $15m aged care facility

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!