Mum’s horror find in scan after gastro
IN THE weeks leading up to Christmas, Michelle Grech couldn't shake what she thought was just an unusual case of gastro.
But now the 39-year-old, from Sunbury, Victoria, is preparing for the fight of her life after being diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer.
In December, the mum-of-two began to experience chest pains and struggled to keep down food for days. The symptoms would disappear for a few days before returning.
"I had nausea throughout the day, and then at night I would actually vomit," Ms Grech told news.com.au. "That would run for two days, but then I would have two days where I wouldn't be ill."
Baffled, Ms Grech, 39, went to her doctors searching for answers.
"I just went to the doctor and said, 'Hey, this is what is happening, I've got no explanation, what do you guys think?'" she said, with her GP ordering her to get an ultrasound.
But as Ms Grech waited for the results, she began to feel progressively worse and returned to the doctor on Boxing Day.
During that visit, Ms Grech received her ultrasound results: She had a mass on her liver the size of a peach.
In the days that followed Ms Grech underwent a blood test and CAT scan, while her eyes and skin began to turn yellow, a sign her liver was failing.
On December 29, Ms Grech was rushed to hospital where she was told she had stage four cholangiocarcinoma, a rare and aggressive form of liver cancer that forms in the bile ducts.
The cancer has also spread to her spine.
"I don't even know if I still believe it … I'm a young adult who is so fit in every other way," Ms Grech said.
"I've got children, I live a good, clean, healthy life that I just don't believe it."
Her prognosis is uncertain as cholangiocarcinoma is usually only found in people aged 50 and over, making Ms Grech significantly younger than the typical patient.
Ms Grech's close friend Maria Dertilis has since started a GoFundMe campaign to pay for any medical treatment and support her family.
Ms Dertilis told news.com.au her friend of 20 years had been "amazingly strong" as she prepared to undergo treatment.
"With Michelle, because she's young, she's got that on her side, she's healthy otherwise," Ms Dertilis said.
"She is a good candidate for some studies that they're going to look into if they maybe can do."
Before being diagnosed, Ms Grech and her family had been struggling financially, with her partner Luke unable to take time off work as she undergoes hospital treatment.
"She's at home, she's got these two children, he has to go to work, he doesn't have a choice," Ms Dertilis said.
"We don't know how much time she has and I just really want the family to be able to be together through that time, and I want them to be able to have that support from her husband."
So far the GoFundMe page has raised more than $30,000 for Ms Grech, who says she is overwhelmed by the support she has received from strangers.
"I can't believe and I'm so grateful for everyone that has donated thus far or what has been written in messages," Ms Grech said.
"Because I really don't think I would be in as good a headspace as I am because I don't feel so financially burdened as I did before."