“I met Scott in early December 2001, when I was a 19-year-old university student. I was out with a good friend when he and I noticed each other and started talking. By the end of the night, he asked for my number and a few days later we went on our first date. I was smitten.
Just after Christmas the same year, Scott left for a two week holiday with a few of his friends. While he was away we constantly sent text messages to each other. On New Year’s Eve, I was at a party when I messaged him to say that I wished he was with me so I could kiss him at midnight. The next day, he flew home early from his holiday so we could spend time together. He later told me this was when he knew he was in love.
Every spare moment we had, we spent together.
When I had my wisdom teeth removed I stayed at my parents’ place while I was recovering, which was over two hours away. Every day, Scott would drive up in the morning to spend time with me and then drive back in the afternoon to work as a chef. It was during one of these trips that I told him I loved him for the first time. I had never told anyone I had loved them before, and I was on top of the world. Scott was welcomed as a part of my family, and I had told my friends he was the man I was going to be with for the rest of my life.
In April 2002, Scott and I moved into our first place together. He spent hours teaching me the rules of AFL and cricket, which were his favourite sports. And while I was studying for my university exams, he would make me cups of tea.
We loved going to the beach together as we enjoyed the sunshine we would imagine what our lives together would look like, talking about when we would get married, how many kids we would have and what their names would be.
Two years later, I graduated from university – an accomplishment I would have struggled to achieve without Scott’s support. As a graduation present, he took me to Melbourne for the first time. While we were there we saw his beloved Hawthorn AFL team play. We also took a trip to Wooli together, where we sat on the rocks at the river mouth for hours, just watching the water, fishing and talking. I remember him telling me how he would love to retire somewhere like that.
Around July 2004, Scott’s knee became very sore and he was struggling to stand on his feet all night at work. He had also lost 10kg which he attributed to stress.
When a lump started growing in his leg above his knee he got scared and went to his GP looking for answers.
After numerous tests, he was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare primary bone cancer that affects children and young people. They found a tumour in his leg that had already spread to his lungs. Later, the doctors told us they were unsure of how many tumours he actually had. At the age of 22, he had the fight of his life on his hands.
In late August 2004, Scott needed to have 12-18 weeks of chemotherapy. He suffered extreme pain in his leg and back throughout the treatment and often required morphine injections and oxygen to help him breathe.
There were so many things that we had to watch out for and monitor. I had to regularly check Scott’s temperature and take him to hospital immediately if it was above 38 degrees. He had to make sure to be very careful not to cut himself when he was shaving, as the chemo could stop his blood from clotting. He needed to take a number of medications at various intervals during the day so to help I wrote up a schedule of what medication had to be taken when. He would also bruise easily, have dizzy spells and get migraines. It seemed the list was never ending.
At times, it would all just get too much and he would cry for hours.
A few months later, in October 2004, things started to look up as the primary tumour in Scott’s leg was shrinking and he started feeling a little better. He even went to work for a couple of days. Our spirits were lifting and we talked more about what we would do when he went into remission.
But our hopes were quickly dashed a few weeks later when we were told the chemo wasn’t working.
The pain in his back and leg was getting worse and he found it increasingly difficult to breathe. The tumours we knew about were getting bigger and spreading.
We were told his cancer could not be cured but, hopefully, ongoing radiation treatments would shrink the tumours to give him more time – maybe a few years if we were lucky. The doctor said we would know if the treatment had worked within the next two weeks. If it didn’t, he wouldn’t have much time left.
Scott and I were devastated by this news and we wanted to get a second opinion. We couldn’t understand why nothing could be done to cure his cancer, but we vowed to not give up. We talked about things like getting married and travelling to see the world before it was too late.
On the day we had an appointment to get a second opinion, Scott was rushed to hospital with extreme back pain and a tingling sensation in his legs. MRI scans showed that tumours on his spine were pressing on his spinal cord and had cracked one of his vertebrae. He was given three high doses of radiation on his back over three consecutive days.
By the end of November, Scott was confined to his bed because he had lost all the feeling in his legs and could no longer support himself. The doctors told us the radiation had not been successful and that he would be lucky to live another week.
During Scott’s final days, I lived in the hospital with him. He spent lots of time with his friends and family during that time as well. I will never forget the memory of his young, fit and healthy friends, crying and supporting each other in the hallways of the hospital.
We celebrated our three year anniversary in the hospital.
I was in a chair beside Scott when he lowered his bed as if he was getting down on one knee, and he presented me with an engraved eternity ring, asking if he could be mine for eternity.
Scott’s tumours had continued to spread and were now visible even on his face. As the days went on, he was on so many pain medications that he rarely woke up, and on the occasions he was awake, he was hallucinating, on one occasion he believed it was our 50th wedding anniversary.
During one of our last conversations, Scott was feeling sad about his imminent passing and worried that people would forget him. I promised him I would never let that happen.
Scott continues to be my guide through life.
On the night of Christmas Eve 2004, I laid in the bed beside Scott so I could hold him all night. I guess I knew it would be for the last time.
We spent Christmas morning with family crowded around Scott’s hospital bed. I sat beside him all day, holding his hand. At around 3pm, I left the room to talk to some family members. Before leaving, I kissed him on the forehead and told him I loved him and I’d be back soon. I felt his heart beat and it was very weak.
Half an hour later, Scott passed away as an afternoon storm rolled in. We believe he chose his moment to move on, as he had hoped he would get the chance to see a storm one last time.
His family and I comforted each other as we had a drink in his honour on the balcony of the hospital and watched the storm fade away. It’s been 12 years now and every Christmas at 3.30pm I still share a drink with my family in his memory.
Saying goodbye to Scott and leaving the hospital for the last time without him was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. He was farewelled on New Year’s Eve 2004, and is buried with a photo of us on his heart.
I consider myself lucky to have known Scott. He was such an important part of my life and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without him.
Scott taught me what life and love are about and showed me real happiness. He encouraged me to never give up, achieve my goals and follow my dreams. Rarely does a day pass where he does not cross my mind. His memory reminds me to never take things for granted, to make the most of every day and appreciate every moment.
I have made it my life goal to continue fundraising for cancer research in his memory and ensure his legacy lives on.” – ACRF supporter, Leanne