Mel Blake (centre), with her partner Vern (left) and son Jed (right) at Crawford Lodge
When Mel Blake was told that, optimistically, she had only two weeks to live, her family's life as they knew it changed completely.
Living in Bruce Rock in Western Australia's Wheatbelt region, Mel was home-schooling her young son, Jed, while her partner, Vern, worked at the local shire to provide for the family.
In June 2019 Mel was constantly exhausted and had been for weeks, but when a large bruise appeared on her calf, she knew something was seriously wrong.
Devastatingly, only days after her initial blood test, Mel was diagnosed with an aggressive case of Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.
Needing immediate treatment to survive, there was no time to spare. Mel, her young son, Jed, and her partner, Vern, had to pack up their lives, find a new home for their beloved family dogs and leave Vern's job - their only source of income - behind to travel to Perth, not knowing when they would return.
Thankfully, Mel had support when she needed it most. Mel and her family found a home away from home in Cancer Council WA's Crawford Lodge, one of our two accommodation centres for country cancer patients undergoing treatment in Perth.
For those undergoing treatment now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, their compromised immune system means they are at even higher risk if they are to catch the virus. Isolation is the only protection they have.
Every year, over 5000 country cancer patients and their carers check into our Lodges whilst undergoing life-saving treatment in Perth.
The Lodges provide a place of refuge and comfort, vital emotional support and services such as transport to treatment. When they return home, our regional Cancer Support Coordinators are there to guide them through their cancer journey which can continue long after treatment has ended.
A year on from her first symptoms, Mel and her family are now back home in Bruce Rock adjusting to life after cancer.
Mel is in remission, but she is still going for blood tests every eight weeks; each time hoping she doesn't receive a follow up call for more testing. Her energy levels are increasing daily, but she still struggles after a big day of activity. And sadly, their beloved family dogs, which had to be rehomed before coming to Perth for treatment, will be remaining in their new homes.
Life after cancer is a significant adjustment and for some survivors, things may never be the same. The support that our Lodges have provided to these people was only made possible by the generosity of the WA community, as these services are entirely donor-funded.
If you can please send a gift before 30 June to ensure vulnerable cancer patients and survivors have the vital support they need to get through these uncertain times.