It’s been a horrendous year for Katoomba couple Gill Enterkin and Melissa Taylor, but it’s taught them the value of friendship and community.
In February 2018 Ms Enterkin was diagnosed with breast cancer, and the tumour successfully removed. She started a teaching position in April at Gulgong, commuting back to the Mountains at the weekends.
Then in June, Ms Taylor was rushed to hospital when CT scans detected two brain tumours. “We were within hours of losing her,” Ms Enterkin said.
A neuro surgery team at Nepean Hospital successfully removed the tumours, but in the past six months she’s had surgery five times, as she struggles to maintain the delicate balance of fluid in the brain.
Carrying the BRCA1 gene mutation, Ms Taylor is lucky to be alive after breast cancer in 2000 and again in 2015. It spread to her lungs, but thanks to the wonder drug Lynparza, the tumour in her lungs has shrunk to almost nothing.
She gets very tired on the treatment, but says it’s a million times better than chemotherapy where “you don’t have a life and you can’t move.”
“This drug is a game-changer. It’s so effective with the BRCA gene mutation.”
While Ms Taylor struggled in and out of hospital, Ms Enterkin was still commuting to Gulgong, eventually picking up a temporary teaching position at Cambridge Park. Through the entire time Ms Taylor’s mum Dawn has been living with the couple, helping out.
But now they’ve made the decision to sell-up and move to Lake Conjola on the South Coast, to be closer to family and for financial reasons.
Friends have helped renovate the backyard from a dirt laden BMX-track to a lush, grassy oasis.
Ms Taylor is hopeful down the track she’ll be able to return to work as a social worker and trauma therapist.
“But the main thing is to get into remission and stay there,” she said.
“When you have cancer you learn to appreciate people and relationships. I tell people I love them a lot more.”
Friends have also wanted to help out and have organised a fun fundraiser.
The F#$k Cancer Let’s Dance event will be held on February 22 at the Baroque Room at Katoomba at 8pm. Tickets are $20 per person and can be purchased at the door or online via the Facebook event page F#$%ck Cancer Let’s Dance.
Two of the Blue Mountains most popular funk and soul bands, the Groove Co-op and Disco Frisco will perform and there will be lots of fabulous prizes donated by the community to be raffled on the night.
Event organiser Anne Crestani encouraged the community to come along and show their love and support of the couple.
“I’d encourage everyone to go all out on the crazy disco outfits as there will be fantastic prizes to be won for best disco wigs and funkiest dance moves,” she said.
“So come on Blue Mountains, do it in a wig and show your love and support for two of our own.”
All funds raised on the night go directly to support the couple.