In the past five years Romina Rondinelli-Ivaneza has learnt not to let grim statistics break her spirit.
Each time doctors present the cold, hard facts in her husband’s battle to beat brain cancer, she regroups and buckles down for the next round of treatment.
Oli Ivaneza has undergone five operations to rid his head of the invasive tumour that made itself known through only the slightest of symptoms – shivering and a strange taste.
He’s also had a mighty bout of radiation and spent six weeks in a rehabilitation hospital.
Next month the 31-year-old will visit his oncologist and undergo more tests to see who has the upper hand.
But whatever the new odds, his wife will make sure he knows his corner is full of supporters.
‘‘We get some pretty grim statistics, it’s the job of the experts to tell you the truth, to spell it out in black and white, and it can be really confronting,’’ Mrs Rondinelli-Ivaneza said.
‘‘We stay positive, we leave the doctor’s saying ‘Nope, it’s OK, they’re just statistics. Oli will be the exception’. I tell him that all the time, he’s my exception.’’
The couple were just months from tying the knot when doctors found the eight-centimetre tumour in Mr Ivaneza’s head.
Family and friends suggested delaying their big day until things settled down.
‘‘People were saying put it off, but why would you when you love someone?’’ Mrs Rondinelli-Ivaneza said.
For better and worse, the couple have stood united.
‘‘Your life can just change, just like that. Who would have thought at 31 Oli wouldn’t be able to work any more, would have to hand in his driver’s licence.
‘‘But when he’s having a bad day I say to him ‘You’re gonna be my exception’.
‘‘I don’t ever want him to think I’ve given up hope. I always want him to know there are people around him that care.’’
And that’s how Mrs Rondinelli-Ivaneza’s fund-raising work began – to get the people of the Illawarra in her husband’s corner, raising funds for the charity headed by his doctor, the world-renowned brain surgeon Charlie Teo.
Teo’s Cure for Life Foundation is working towards a cure for brain cancer.
Mrs Rondinelli-Ivaneza’s hard-working committee is full of family and friends eager to make Gala Purple a success.
The event is being held at the Fraternity Club – where the couple worked and first met – on October 13. For tickets call 4283 3333 or email galapurple @gmail.com for details.