Our 1st Initiative for Heart of Wenty brand is one that is close to our hearts, Rebecca Gauci is our Community Engagement Coordinator who will be helping to bring our Heart of Wenty Brand to life. Through Rebecca’s experience in the Community space and her incredible knowledge of the ClubGRANTS program, there are plenty of exciting initiatives on the horizon.
Over the past few years, Rebecca has encountered some challenges in her life, which she has bravely shared with her Wenty Colleagues and is now sharing with our wider Wenty community. In March, the Marketing team, which Rebecca is a part of, are embarking on an 18km hike to the top of Mt Kosciuszko to raise money for the Brain Foundation. The team have been wanting a to find a way to show their support to Rebecca and to highlight that they are there for her on her challenging journey and this hike represents an opportunity to push themselves out of their comfort ones to raise money and awareness for a worthy cause.
After the birth of my second daughter in February 2020, I started experiencing some alarming symptoms: numbness on the left side of my face, dizziness, and balance issues. Attributing it to postpartum fatigue, I dismissed it initially. During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, I consulted a local GP who dismissed my concerns as exhaustion. It wasn’t until my daughter’s six-month check-up in August that I raised the issue again with my regular GP. Concerned, she ordered an MRI, revealing a large Acoustic Neuroma, a benign brain tumour situated between the ear and the brain.
The diagnosis was a life-altering moment, and I grappled with fears about surgery, potential complications, and the impact on my family. The surgery, initially estimated at nine hours, turned into a 21.5-hour ordeal as the tumour was more complex than anticipated, entwined around my brain stem. Post-surgery, I spent five challenging days in ICU, relearning basic functions like walking, talking, and eating. The experience, coupled with facial paralysis akin to Bell’s Palsy, tested my mental resilience. Though I eventually transitioned to a regular ward, the recovery journey was far from over.
Unexpectedly facing Christmas in the hospital, I pleaded for discharge to be with my family. Physically and mentally drained, the first weeks at home were a struggle. The post-operative scans in February 2021 brought a sense of relief, indicating tumour stability. However, subsequent scans in June 2021 revealed significant growth, necessitating 28 days of radiation. Amid the second lockdown, my routine included early-morning radiation sessions, homeschooling my eldest, and grappling with the side effects of nausea, light-headedness, and fatigue.
The radiation experience exposed me to the resilience of fellow patients but took a toll on my body. The subsequent MRI scans provided varying results, with moments of stability but also concerning growth. While the tumour’s impact on my balance, speech, and facial muscles persists, my medical team advises continuous monitoring.
In the last year, scans have shown both growth and stability, bringing a mix of worry and uncertainty. The latest scan at the end of 2023 indicated stability, but the future remains uncertain. The neurosurgeon may recommend further surgery or radiation if the tumour continues to grow.
Living with the persistent impact of the tumour on my daily life, I face uncertainty about future interventions. However, with continuous monitoring and the guidance of my dedicated medical team, I approach each day with a focus on the present and the strength to confront whatever lies ahead, one step at a time.