Christmas is supposed to be such a wonderful time of year, not a time when you find out your boyfriend has brain cancer.
My boyfriend, Jake and I were on a date night at the lovely outdoor cinema in Burswood. After getting home late, we went to bed. A few hours later, I was woken up to the sound of Jake having a seizure right next to me.
He was taken to hospital right away. At first, the doctors thought it was a potassium deficiency and then a stroke.
All before they discovered the large tumour pressing his brain to one side. At 24 years old, he was diagnosed with brain cancer.
On Christmas Eve, Jake was wheeled into surgery. It was so difficult to believe that just a few days ago, everything was fine. When I saw him next, he had a massive bandage wrapped across his head - looking so vulnerable, depleted and scared. It was so unfair.
In no time at all, Jake was back on his feet.
He returned to university to study law and took up his much loved hobby of dancing again.
You could never tell that he was sick. But sadly, this was just the beginning of a life sentence for him.
Across 3 years, he underwent two brain surgeries, numerous amounts of different chemotherapies, radiations and trial drugs
before it eventually grew into a Grade IV Glioblastoma. The most dangerous and aggressive type of brain cancer there is.
Jake tried everything the doctors threw at him, but it just wouldn’t stop growing back. Then came the heartbreaking news.
After around 3 years fighting this disease, the oncologist broke the news that there was nothing more they could do.
This was it. At just 27 years old, his life would soon be over.
I searched the internet high and low in an attempt to prepare myself as much as possible for his upcoming passing.
But I struggled to find the answers I was after, looking back at it now – it wouldn’t have mattered anyway.
Nothing could have prepared me for the cruellest thing I had ever seen.
When a Glioblastoma hits, it doesn’t show any mercy. Jake was someone who loved to stay active and was an adventurer.
But the tumour growing rapidly across his brain meant the end of this lifestyle. He just got weaker and weaker.
It initially started with a slight limp, then soon after he lost his ability to move the left hand side of his body.
Within a couple of weeks, he needed a walking frame, then a wheelchair, and later a bed. He lost the ability to talk, swallow food,
recognise people and move any part of his body from the neck down. From then on, he slipped into a coma and never woke again. He passed away just over a week later in the early hours of the morning.
Jake fought this disease with such determination and courage. He was an inspiring person to know. Rarely seen without a smile on his face and was always making sure everyone else was okay during his sickness. Even when he was dying, his first concern was about how everybody else would cope in his absence. The world truly lost a wonderful person.
With brain cancer, it is like watching them die twice. First their personality and character, followed later on by their physical body. Before Jake was diagnosed with brain cancer, I knew very little about this disease. And now, I know far too much.
This is where I feel a sense of responsibly to help end this disease as best I can.
Mid last year in the midst of my grief, I turned to something that always gave me some happiness. Jewellery making.
I experimented with many different pearls and beads, before I came up with a beaded bracelet that I loved!
I knew what I wanted to do with it right away.
I set up an Instagram page and an online shop through Etsy, called Pearl Meets Crystal.
I sell handmade Swarovski Pearl and Crystal bracelets, with profits from each bracelet going directly to help fund vital brain cancer research.
The support and interest that I have received has amazed me! My bracelets have been purchased from states all around Australia and the US too. As well as being stocked in a Perth store.
Starting my very own jewellery collection has helped me to remember Jake and I love that I can continue to honour his memory in this way. Danielle's Instagram Fundraising page can be found here.