A fundraiser is being held this weekend for a Dunmanway woman who is hoping to fulfil her ‘bucket list’ having being diagnosed with an incurable cancer, writes Mareike Graepel
A 28-YEAR-old mother of one who grew up in West Cork and who has incurable cancer is hoping a fundraiser in Dunmanway this weekend will help make her final wishes come true.
Tina Bills (née Treutler) grew up in Dunmwany where her mother Erika still lives, and was given the tragic diagnosis of stage four breast cancer last November.
Now, this Sunday Erika is holding an Open Garden Fundraiser in her native Dunmanway, to aid with her treatment costs and help grant her daughter’s bucket list wishes.
She said: ‘All the money from that event will go into Tina’s gofundme.com account.’
Tina left Dunmanway a decade ago to be with her boyfriend, now husband in America. He serves in the US navy.
In November 2015, beautiful little Zoey was born.
‘She is the happiest baby in the world and makes my heart sing with happiness,’ says Tina.
Asked what her biggest wish for the future is, Tina replies without hesitation: ‘My biggest wish is for my family and friends to be happy, to not break down or shut down when I die.’
She adds: ‘I hope to be around for much longer than the statistics suggest. I wish for the cure for cancer and that Zoey didn’t get the mutated gene from me, so she won’t have to worry or deal with this in her own life.’
Tina initially discovered a lump when breastfeeding Zoey.
‘I thought it a clogged milk duct for ages, although it hurt and grew in size. It wasn’t until I noticed a lump in my armpit as well that cancer crossed my mind,’ she recalls.
But it was only during a trip to Europe introducing her baby daughter to her family in Ireland and Germany that she was in so much pain that she could not shrug it off or ignore the situation any longer.
At that stage Tina was taking the maximum dose of over-the-counter pain medication.
She and her husband decided went to an ER, where they saw a consultant and had an ultrasound.
A biopsy of the breast and the lymph node under her arm was completed and she was admitted to hospital, going through ‘a whirlwind of tests and scenes and doctors talking to me’.
Since then she’s undergone several medical procedures and treatments some of which have been painful and difficult. Looking back, Tina doesn’t remember too many details of that time.
She says she was just waiting for the results to determine which stage of cancer she was dealing with.
Essentially it was all a blur, she admits.
‘Zoey’s first birthday was around that time, and everybody was tiptoeing around the thought of me having cancer,’ she says.
Then the call she had been dreading came through and delivered the devastating news that the liver biopsy had come back and was positive.
But there was worse to come - it was stage 4 cancer, and it was incurable.
‘I couldn’t tell you what I felt at that moment. I think it was the thoughts of what I needed to do next.’
The thought of not being able to plan baby number two, and not being able to see her daughter grow up, bothered her the most.
‘That still breaks my heart every time I really think about it. I am going to miss so much of Zoey’s life. Will I get to see her start school? Will I live long enough to help her through puberty?’
Tina lost her hair during the second round of chemotherapy, but it’s currently growing back.
‘When I noticed my hair falling out, I decided to shave it in front of Zoey. She watched closely and was a little bit confused. But she still knew who I was and was comfortable with me, which made me very happy.
‘She loved touching my head. It actually took me much longer to get used to it.’
Tina is very open about her situation on her Facebook page “Tina for remission” where she posts regular updates, including pictures and videos of treatments and highs and lows of the situation.
She also posted pictures of her mastectomy.
‘I first did that to keep my family and friends up-to-date, but after some time it became kind of a platform for sharing information on stage 4 breast cancer at my age, which is more common than people think,’ she explains.
Tina says her priority now is to make sure she gets to do some of the things she always dreamt of and she has put together a bucket list.
She plans to use money raised for things like housing costs, because she travels for treatment or to ‘take some trips to help stay positive and spend as much stress free time with my family as I can.’
‘My bucket lists keeps getting longer, anytime I see some place that looks cool to me, mainly travel destinations it goes on the list.
‘ Seeing the Northern Lights for example, or the Chinese New Year. Maybe visit base camp at Mount Everest. Oh, and I’d love to go snow camping!’