Eight months after giving birth to her ‘miracle’ daughter Mia, Christine Walters was diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer and given one year to live.
“It was devastating, I looked down at my beautiful miracle baby in her pram and thought how will I say goodbye,” says 44-year-old Christine from her home in Caboolture.
After the news had sunk in, she told her oncologist, “you have to find a way to get me more time so that my little girl can remember her mum”.
Four and half years later, having given up her job as a high school teacher, Christine is still collecting Mia from kindy, teaching her to ride horses, cooking meals and reading her bedtime stories.
“For a long time I felt mentally broken, and I still catch myself sometimes looking at Mia when she is sleeping and I feel a sense of anger over what we have lost. I won’t get to see her graduate high school, or get married or have her own kids. I would do anything to live to see those things,” she says.
“Day to day, however, I refuse to dwell on it, I just get on with the job of being a mum as much as my body will allow me to.”
Christine left Denmark and arrived in Australia as a backpacker in 1994. She has called Australia home ever since. She met husband Neil, who has two sons Daniel and Luke from a previous marriage, in 2006. They married three years later and began trying for a baby straight after. But after three years of trying they turned to invitro fertilisation.
“I remember so clearly the day they rang and told me I was pregnant, it was the most ecstatic feeling ever,” she says.
Mia was delivered via caesarean section and although there were signs that something might not be right, Christine felt fit and healthy.
“Mia was seven months and I had been climbing Mt Ngungun three to four times a week when I was diagnosed with an inoperable tumour.”
Over the last few years, in an effort to squeeze out more time with her family, Christine has had chemotherapy, radiotherapy and braccotherapy while also trialling new drugs and immunotherapy.
“It’s been a roller coaster ride, each time I go downhill a new drug comes up but there’s nothing after this, it’s the last chance saloon. If I go down now, I know what the outcome is going to be.”
Karuna has been caring for Christine for the past six months, offering psychological support whenever she needs it.
“Karuna has been a godsend, it helps knowing the nurses and counsellors are always there. When I feel really distraught, I can send a text to the counsellors and they will get back to me, put things in perspective and calm me down.”
“I’ve felt grief like I have never felt before and I just didn’t know how to process it, Karuna is helping me through it.”