When Cherie Allen went to the doctor in August 2010 with a persistent cough she didn’t think it would be anything too serious.
She had no other symptoms, she lived a healthy lifestyle and she didn’t smoke.
So the Albion Park Rail mother of three was completely floored when the doctor came back with a diagnosis of Stage 3 lung cancer.
‘‘It was completely out of the blue,’’ she said.
‘‘I had a cough that wouldn’t go away and that was really the only symptom. I was well, I hadn’t lost any weight.
‘‘It was just completely random. There was no real reason why I ended up with it.’’
Stage 3 lung cancer is a ‘‘locally advanced’’ cancer, meaning the tumour had spread to lymph nodes.
This meant Mrs Allen was unable to have surgery and the cancer was treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy concurrently.
The treatment appeared to work, with regular check-ups showing no recurrence.
Then in February, 2 years after her last treatment, a scan showed up a new tumour in her other lung.
This tumour was detected early enough to allow surgery along with another course of chemotherapy, which ended in July.
Today, Mrs Allen, 43, and her children, Toby, 15, Grace, 13, and Abby, 12, are taking part in National Bandanna Day to raise money for CanTeen, a charity that supports children whose lives have been affected by cancer.
‘‘In 2010, the kids were still quite young and we protected them as much as we could from the seriousness of where we were at,’’ Mrs Allen said.
‘‘They didn’t get involved in CanTeen until recently.
‘‘They went to their first camp during the school holidays, at Stanwell Park, and had an absolutely amazing time.
‘‘They met all sorts of cool people who they could share their experiences with.
‘‘It was really good for them to be able to talk openly, to have other kids understand what they are going through, having gone through it themselves.’’
Mrs Allen is back to three-monthly check-ups.
‘‘I have another X-ray and check-up next month and we’ll see where we stand,’’ she said.
‘‘The statistics for lung cancer are pretty grim. When I was first diagnosed, I was given a 10per cent chance of making it to two years, so we were pretty happy to get to 2 years.’’