Rare cancer means pain, and waiting on the unknown

Alicia Rosskelly, who suffered the pain of a burst appendix, and then the revelation she has a rare appendix cancer.
Alicia Rosskelly, who suffered the pain of a burst appendix, and then the revelation she has a rare appendix cancer.

ALICIA Rosskelly says she was at work when her appendix "exploded".

Initially she shrugged it off, thinking it was related to a hernia in her bellybutton, but when she started crying from the pain her workmates sent her home.

A friend convinced Ms Rosskelly to go to hospital, where doctors told her that her appendix had ruptured. It was another day before they gave her the news that the rupture was caused by a tumor.

Launceston musicians and music fans have rallied behind the former Launceston and East Coast resident since she was diagnosed with mucinous adenocarcinoma, a rare appendix cancer, in January.

Ms Rosskelly, 24, who now lives in Byron Bay, said fund-raising concerts and get-togethers run by friends near and far had been encouraging as she waited for a potentially life-saving surgery.

"It's helped out so, so much, because I'm going to an osteopath every week and it's so expensive, and all the vitamins and medications you need ... and the flights to Sydney for my surgery, it's helped with all of it."

She said that while doctors had removed the tumor in her appendix shortly after they discovered it, a cancerous "mucinous jelly" remained in her peritoneal cavity.

"So now I have to undergo a peritonectomy, which is an eight- hour operation where they will make an incision from my diaphragm to my pubic bone to go in, remove all the disease they can see - so, suck it up," Ms Rosskelly said.

"And then what they'll do is flush hot chemotherapy through by stomach cavity while it's open."

Ms Rosskelly said although the surgery had a high success rate in terms of removing cancer, it was a bit of a "lucky dip".

"I might wake up without a kidney, without a spleen, they might have to take my ovaries, I might wake up with a full hysterectomy, the doctors just don't know until they're in there," she said.

Ms Rosskelly said she didn't know when she'd have her surgery, but she was hoping she wouldn't have to wait beyond May.

"It's really frustrating waiting, and it's really frustrating because family and friends are like, `call them up, yell at them, push them, you're not just a number'," she said.

"But I am just a number. I know it's my life and everything but there are people who are in more need than me so as long as I'm not getting any worse I'm happy to sit back and wait."