Denise and Graeme: Love and Support Through Cancer

Cancer Council NSW
Denise Roach undergoing her fortnightly treatments

Denise was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2018.

Heartbreakingly, further pathology tests revealed cancer in her lymph nodes that had also spread to her liver.

Love endures all things

Throughout Denise’s treatment, whether it was radiation therapy or chemotherapy, her husband Graeme would join her and keep her company during her five-hour treatments every fortnight, for three years.

Graeme says, “she always put on a brave face for everyone, even into the third year with cancer – she had lost weight, but she always had such a positive outlook and a smile for everyone”.

When reflecting on how tough it was, Graeme will always remember their friends and family being remarkably caring, kind and supportive.

While some people feel more secure being near health professionals, Graeme recalls Denise saying, “I hope I don’t have to go in the hospital!” And thanks to the palliative care team, they were able to keep Denise comfortable at home.

Denise went through treatment for three years, but sadly died on 10 February 2022, a week after their 50th wedding anniversary.

A cancer diagnosis while coping with loss

Graeme is now living with prostate cancer, after getting on top of a prior diagnosis, it has since returned as advanced castrate cancer.

“I’m so grateful to my oncologist, who was also Denise’s oncologist. She investigated every program possible for Denise and went above and beyond to try and help us”. She is now doing that for me and helping in every way that she can. I am incredibly lucky” says Graeme.

“It does take some getting used to, not having Denise here. My daughter has been encouraging me to take up playing golf again, I have also started going out for lunch weekly with friends.”

I love to think about all of the incredible memories we had. We loved to travel together, there’s nowhere in Australia we haven’t been, we both loved the country and doing road trips.

“I’ll love her always”. Graeme concludes.

Removing the fear of the unknown

Being diagnosed with cancer is an incredibly difficult experience, and understandably there are many questions on the minds of those impacted, whether directly or through a connection.

At Cancer Council NSW, we understand. This is why we share trustworthy information about cancer, treatments and coping with the physical, emotional and practical impacts.

“Cancer Council materials were extremely helpful for us”, says Graeme. “We would read booklets of information in the oncology waiting room or chemotherapy unit about bowel cancer, liver cancer and other useful things.”

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