It’s not a memory Colleen Lavelle likes to recall but the day she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer is one she will never forget.
When doctors broke the news in 2010, the Wakka Wakka woman from Hervey Bay in Queensland said they couldn’t tell her how long she had left to live.
“They said I could go in a second or I could go in 20 years,” she told NITV.
With two children in primary school, and one in high school, Colleen decided she wasn’t leaving them, she was determined to put up a fight.
Four years after her diagnosis, the pressure on Colleen’s brain became so much, she started chemotherapy which she says made her ‘really sick’.
“Chemo and I are not friends. I got brittle bones, fractures in my hip and spine. They [the doctors] told me I might not walk again, but I’m walking now,” she told NITV.
Colleen took to her keyboard and started a blog as a way to ‘reach out to others’ and let them know ‘they’re not alone’.
ProudBlackSista.wordpress.com isn’t Colleen’s first blog, but it’s the place where she can write freely and share stories from her treatment.
“The medical profession doesn’t tell us everything. You can go to different support groups but there’s very few blackfellas who get involved, the blog was a way to let people know it’s okay.”
Each story is unique, but Colleen’s readers are united.
The details differing slightly but overall it’s a familiar story - some families struggling to pay bills and others grappling with the news.
“I cashed in my super to pay for my medical bills,” she said.
Colleen’s blog is peppered with her thoughts, advice, information on where to get help - she even shares the intimate and at times delicate conversations she’s had with her family.
“My kids are facing the fact their mum could die so I’ve written about our arguments.”
Her stories didn’t go unnoticed.
“I remember the first time someone wrote to me after reading my blog. It was from a woman who had been in a similar situation and had made it out the other end. She told me she was praying for me.”
Since then, Colleen said she’s been overwhelmed and humbled by the feedback.
“People want to talk about what they’ve experienced; they want to say they’ve been through it. Some just want someone to talk to.”
“A lot of the stories involve how lonely it is.”
The support for her blog has recently grown into a Facebook page and Colleen has seen the community rally together.
“People are posting and sharing notes and posting pictures of my first day of treatment or my last day of treatment, you can get that immediate feedback and support to know you’re not alone.” She said to NITV.
Colleen is terminally ill and her brain tumour has grown since it’s diagnosis but the mother of three says when people share their stories especially at times like this, it inspires hope.
“I want people to know they are not alone.”