Appeal « Charlie Teo Foundation

Bianca's Brain Cancer Battle

Around 500 people under 50 are diagnosed with brain cancer every year in Australia.* Bianca, 45-year-old mother in the prime of her life was diagnosed with brain cancer.

At the Charlie Teo Foundation our sole purpose is to tackle brain cancer head-on… and beat it.

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“I reside in Townsville and have been a Queensland Police Officer, Senior Constable for 12yrs. I love my job! I am also lucky enough to work alongside my husband, Tim, who is with the Townsville Mendi Blackhawks Rugby League, on local community support programs.

Together we have a beautiful, blended family of 6 amazing and successful children. I myself have three handsome adult sons and one beautiful daughter; Kaiden 24yrs (Diesel Mechanic), Elias 21yrs (Lawyer), Aston 20yrs (Builder) and little Alexis 6yrs (Prep).

In 2020, I believed I was a fit and healthy woman, with many years of life ahead of me. I planned to have another child. I was playing local netball and attending gym a few times a week. Life was great.

On 25 September 2020, whilst at home on 3 days off with my husband, I began to feel unwell, with severe headaches which quickly progressed to a weakness of sorts on my left side. I thought it was perhaps a bad migraine, then was worried it was a stroke.

I was rushed to emergency and MRI scans were done. I knew it was bad news when the Doctor asked if I had anyone with me for support. I called my Mother Doreen in Bendigo Victoria, my hometown.

The MRI confirmed that I had a massive tumour in my right frontal lobe.

On 1 October I was transferred to another hospital, where I underwent brain surgery, by local surgeons. After a nerve-racking wait for the results to find out what this tumour was, our worst fears came along. It was found to be Stage IV Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM), the most aggressive brain cancer possible, of which the survival rate is very dim.

The average survival rate whilst undergoing the normal treatment of intense Radiation and Chemotherapy is 15 months.

The treatment of this particular cancer is extremely hard, partly due to the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB) which is designed to protect our brain and keep out all the toxins. But when treating cancer the BBB acts as a barrier that inhibits the treatment from working as well as it does in other parts of the body.

On left, Inspector Roger Whyte. On right, Acting Inspector Jason Brosnan.

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Following the diagnosis, I completed 6 weeks of intense radiation and chemo hoping for positive news. During this treatment, there were some other struggles as well, including losing hair which in light of everything seems like only a little stressful, but can be quite confronting to say the least!

We held a family get together to shave it all off, and one by one (unplanned), all of my sons wanted to show their support by going through it with me. By the end of the night, almost everyone in the household had a new haircut.

A few months later, a follow up MRI revealed some worrying results. Unfortunately, the scans showed that the tumour had re-grown. At that time, no future surgery was scheduled. Things did not look good for me. It was then that Tim and I decided to quickly get married.

We desperately sought another opinion from Dr Charlie Teo.

Charlie agreed to a Skype appointment on 26th January 2021, ‘Australia Day’. He was very, very blunt and truthful. It was a shock to hear that given the current size of the tumour, I may only have weeks to live! Charlie gave us the option to stay home with family or to get down and see him as soon as possible. We chose to go to Sydney to meet Charlie. I also had wonderful support from Queensland Police ‘Helping Hands’ Foundation.

He spoke with us honestly and truthfully even though what he was saying was not what we wanted to hear. Charlie agreed to operate informing me of the risks.

I wanted to live, so on 3 February I had surgery with Charlie. We were unsure at the time if I would walk afterwards as the large area that now needed surgery was close to the workings of the brain controlling left side movement. But without the surgery things were only going to get worse for me, so it was an easy decision.

I awoke from surgery to find out it had been an absolute success. Movement has slowly returned to my left side. I am alive today because of Charlie’s amazing skills as a surgeon.

One thing that I remember was Charlie’s bedside manner being so gentle and kind. I was complaining about awful breath and feeling hot and sticky. Charlie fetched my toothbrush and returned with a hot face washer. Before long, my teeth were cleaned, and face washed. Nothing felt so good.

Charlie has given me extra time now to spend with my family including my little daughter!  I can’t thank him enough.

We keep in regular contact with Charlie with scans and blood results.  He is so approachable to discuss anything with, nothing seems to be too much to ask.

I have now celebrated my 45th Birthday and my daughter’s birthday.  I got to see my son Elias graduate and be admitted as a Lawyer. I will see Christmas 2021 and I have a grandchild due in April 2022. What’s more is that Tim and I will celebrate our 1st Wedding Anniversary this New Years Eve!”

Cropped Bianca and Tim
Let’s make sure Bianca and the many people that will follow are not just another statistic.

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