Kate's cancer sacrifice

KATE Fulford doesn't remember much of her mother, or her short battle with stomach cancer. 

She was seven.

But she says watching the same cancer claim her 22-year-old sister was the worst thing she has ever been through.

Tomorrow Ms Fulford will have her stomach surgically removed after learning she too is at risk.

Ms Fulford, who grew up at Legana but lives in Melbourne, said that after her sister died just over a year ago, doctors learned she had inherited a rare genetic mutation from their mother.

After a quick blood test and a six-week wait, Ms Fulford learned she also had the mutation, giving her an 80 per cent chance of stomach cancer and a 60 per cent chance of breast cancer.

Ms Fulford said that while doctors could screen for breast cancer, they couldn't detect stomach cancer until it had spread.

``Basically, doctors told me that the only option was to have my stomach out,'' Ms Fulford said.

``At first I flat-out refused, I said I wasn't going to have it. It just sounded way too extreme.''

After a couple of weeks, and a chat with her father, Ms Fulford accepted there was no choice.

``Now I kind of see it as a positive thing - it will actually help me live my life,'' she said.

Ms Fulford, who celebrates her 26th birthday today, said doctors would take about five hours to remove her stomach, and attach her oesophagus to her small intestine.

``I'm going to be in hospital for about a week, and will be on a liquid diet to start with, but when I can go back to eating normal food it will be a lot smaller than what I'm eating now,'' Ms Fulford said.

``So I will probably eat six to eight meals a day, rather than three, and if I overeat I will be sick.''

Ms Fulford said she had made the most of the final weeks before her surgery, eating as much pizza, ice cream and chocolate as possible, and celebrating her birthday with a wine tour yesterday.

``I've eaten way too much and put on a bit of weight - half my clothes don't fit me anymore - but I'm going to lose it all so I'm not really worried about that,'' Ms Fulford said.

She said she had also made a conscious effort to be positive about her situation, creating a ``bucket list'' of 100 things she wanted to do in her lifetime, and sharing her experiences through an online blog.

``I still get a bit overwhelmed sometimes, but I just try and look at it as if I've been given a chance my mum and sister didn't get,'' Ms Fulford said.

``If I didn't find out about this, then who knows, in a couple of years I could have been in the same position as them,'' she said.

``It's just made me realise that life is short, and I've got to get out there and do everything I want to do.''

 To read Kate Fulford's blog, visit www.beginningnottheend.blogspot.com.au

Kate Fulford, formerly of Launceston, is facing surgery tomorrow.

Kate Fulford, formerly of Launceston, is facing surgery tomorrow.


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