Corrimal's Beth Abbey fights brain cancer with a smile

University student Beth Abbey is spreading awareness about brain cancer after her own battle with it. Picture: ADAM McLEAN

University student Beth Abbey is spreading awareness about brain cancer after her own battle with it. Picture: ADAM McLEAN

For Corrimal's Beth Abbey it is "bitter-sweet" to be among the 25 per cent of patients still alive two years after a brain cancer diagnosis, because of the friends she has lost along the way.

When the 22-year-old university student received her diagnosis in May 2011 she turned to "Dr Google" for information - and there was little in the way of good news.

"I shouldn't have googled 'brain cancer' because only negative words popped up, like 'death' and 'fatal' and 'low survival rate'," she said.

"Because I have survived my two-year anniversary when I was told I wouldn't make one year, I think this week's Brain Cancer Action Week is the ideal time to break that negativity.

"I want to show people who have been diagnosed with brain cancer that it's not always a death sentence; that you can survive it."

Fainting episodes were the only indication something was wrong with the then 19-year-old.

"I'd begun fainting when I was about 16 on and off, but I didn't think there was anything wrong until it started to happen every day when I was 19," Ms Abbey said.

"As soon as I told my doctor I was sent for a scan and diagnosed soon after with a grade II astrocytoma. Surgery at Wollongong Hospital took most of the tumour, but around a third was left, because it was so close to my brain stem.

"I had six weeks of radiation, which shrunk the remainder of the tumour a bit, and since then it's remained stable - it hasn't grown and it hasn't shrunk."

Ms Abbey, who is studying at the University of NSW to be a social worker, has now started a Facebook page for brain cancer awareness, #adeadlyshadeofgrey.

"I want to raise awareness in the hope of eliminating the negative stigma having a brain tumour can have for the sufferers.

"And I want to help shine the light on this cancer so that more research is conducted into it, which will hopefully lead to a higher survival rate."

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