As told by Amanda’s Mum, Tracy Eather
Amanda Carter (my beautiful daughter) touched the hearts of so many people in her life. Sadly, she lost her brave battle with Melanoma Cancer on the 12th of November 2007, aged just 25.
Just two years earlier (Oct 2005) Amanda noticed a change in a mole on her back; it had become red and itchy. After consulting her GP the mole was excised and came back stage II Melanoma so more was cut out and given the all clear. Only a few months later at her regular mole screening appointment it was revealed that she should have more cut away, again, this also was given the all clear. In June 2006 Amanda felt three small lumps in her back about 5 cm away from where her mole was removed, diagnosis – Stage III Melanoma.
The lumps were cut out, as was a section under her left arm where it was discovered that four of the lymph nodes were infected with Melanoma cells. (“This is serious” were the fading words of her doctor). Serious did not explain that we would not have Amanda with us for long; the reality, totally incomprehensible!)
Amanda was accepted into university to study a Bachelor of Education and planned to work part time while performing her important role as a full time mother and wife. This was until January 2007 when she thought she just had a groin injury from crouching down to be with her little boy (then only 2 years old). After unsuccessful chiropractic and physiotherapy sessions it wasn’t until March 23 that her Melanoma specialist discovered a 9 cm tumor in her left hip and socket. Surgery at first was out of the question but after 8 sessions of Radiotherapy, surgery then became an option. On June 7 Amanda had a full left hip replacement and reconstruction, (something that is usually associated with the older generation.) We were told that in just a few short weeks she would be on her feet again without the crutches or wheel chair, something she worked so determinedly at.
Amanda was experiencing back pain which was put down to the imbalance associated with limping for so many months, unfortunately this was not the case and getting back on her feet was not to be. Another scan with doctors at the PA hospital found another tumor on her L4 vertebrae, as well as spots on her spleen. More radiotherapy prescribed for pain relief.
Unfortunately relief from pain did not eventuate for Amanda, my brave girl. This strong and determined woman still was not giving in. She quietly suffered the excruciating pain until her 25th birthday on August 19 2007, (she was not going to be in hospital for her birthday!) We admitted her to the Wesley Hospital for pain relief and pain control on the evening of the August 20 via ambulance to the emergency department of the Wesley hospital.
This time scans discovered that her excruciating pain was related to a fracture of her L4 vertebrae (second vertebrae from the bottom of the spine) pressing against the spinal cord and nerves. (I don’t think we could even comprehend the pain she was tolerating silently and bravely). Doctors orders ”no movement” because of possible irreversible damage to her spine and paralysis from the waist down. Spinal surgery was the next step; her L4 was removed and replaced. We all took this on as being what had to be done the actual seriousness and urgency was again incomprehensible its what “HAD” to be done to get Amanda back on her feet, her goal so she could get to that beach holiday that is planned each year at Christmas. (again we believed that she would be on her feet in just a few weeks)
It was during this month long stay in hospital that the media was showing Claire Oliver’s plea for Solarium closures. Amanda’s voice, (now through me) is “That if there is even the slightest chance why risk it”.
Amanda did use the solarium under the age of 18, and again several sessions before her wedding day. AND her skin type was not checked according to regulations. She had very fair and burn easily skin (TYPE ONE) and should have been advised NOT to use the solarium especially without consent.
We contacted 60 minutes after Claire’s story and A Current Affair took on Amanda’s plea (aired September 18 2007). Amanda returned home with the belief (and hope) that she would wean off her Grasbey (automatic pump that injects pain relief drugs) and get back on her feet so she could go enjoy that beach holiday she booked for December.
Four short weeks later(October 16 2007) we had Amanda back in hospital for pain control. The weeks to follow were just a blur, numbness invaded us deeper. We went in thinking that she would be able to get out for her holiday, even for a few days, it very quickly came to a realisation that she most likely wasn’t going to get out of hospital, wasn’t going to see her beautiful son James’ 3rd birthday (Dec 2nd), wasn’t going to get out to enjoy that beach holiday (Dec 6th) and wasn’t going to get out and see Christmas (her favourite time of the year).
How do you celebrate and bring forward her son’s birthday and Christmas so she was able to enjoy these days when it wasn’t the real dates, how do you be happy in doing that, how do watch this brave person, a part of you, who enjoyed life to the max, made everything important and count, achieve and accomplish more than a lot of us today, fade away so quickly in those last few weeks, all before your very eyes.
My darling beautiful girl just amazed us and the palliative care team with her dignity, the sheer determination and the tower of strength that took her through to the last days of her life, days that extended way past the time they gave her. During her last few conscious days I promised her that I would be her voice and grant her wish for Melanoma Awareness, that it is not “just” a skin cancer that can be cut away, it can invade the body aggressively in any of the organs or bones. In Amanda case it was her hip, then her spine. She had the hip replacement on June 7 and spinal surgery on Aug 27. THAT’S how AGGRESSIVE it was for her, now she is gone! I promised Amanda that she was not going to go through all this horrific pain and parting this world as we know it so soon, for nothing.
It is SERIOUS and does take people’s lives, aggressively, painfully and quickly!
So my aim, with the help of my family, friends and the community, was to set up a foundation to honour Amanda’s bravery and fulfill her wish to raise awareness of melanoma.
Amanda left behind a devastated community of broken hearts, her husband Jay, her beautiful son James, her dad Rhett and her brothers Brendan and Michael, me, her numb but determined, mum, and so many more people who came to love such a beautiful soul, who is so sadly missed!
My darling girl, I will be your voice and your wish will become your Legacy.
Tracy Eather (Amanda’s Voice/Mum)
Written permission is required for use, editing or copying of whole or part thereof, of this document “Amanda’s Journey voiced by her Mum“ from the author Tracy Eather.