By Luke Voogt
A campaign for a “devoted” mother-of-two and “beautiful caring soul” facing the “battle of her life” against stage 4 bowel cancer has raised more than $6600.
Geelong West’s Masayo Hobday said she was overwhelmed with the “unbelievable” response after being rushed to hospital for life-saving surgery on September 30.
“Everyone is just so generous,” the 49-year-old said on Wednesday, a day after beginning a four-month course of chemotherapy.
Masayo first noticed blood in her stool in March, but put off getting a colonoscopy due to COVID-19 restrictions and home-schooling her children Hannah, 13, and Jack, 10, who has autism.
Initially, she had mild symptoms but her condition had worsened dramatically by August.
“I was getting really sick and staying in my bed – I was in a lot of pain,” she said.
“They found a big tumour in my sigmoid colon and they showed a photo of how bad it was – I was in shock.”
Masayo had already suffered prolonged separation from her husband Hamish, who was working in the mines in Western Australia when COVID-19 hit.
A friend introduced them to each other 15 years ago when Masayo, originally from southern Japan, was working as a tour guide for Japanese tourists visiting Uluru.
“I went to university in America, so I could speak English,” she said.
“He was very kind and shy.”
Hamish was in tears after he heard the news over the phone, and applied to return but authorities denied his application, Masayo said.
On September 30 she underwent surgery to remove the tumour, which extended to six hours when surgeons discovered the cancer had spread.
Along with removing part of her bowels, they also had to remove her uterus and ovaries to save her life, Masayo explained.
Specialists now hope that chemotherapy can eradicate the remaining cancer in her liver.
Masayo currently has to use a colostomy bag but she hopes surgeons can repair her bowels after chemotherapy, so she no longer has to.
Hamish quit his job in WA and joined his wife on October 1 after authorities finally approved his application to return.
Throughout the ordeal, Masayo has worried most about its impact on her family.
“Every single day my daughter asks how I’m feeling,” she said.
Friend of several years Brooke Scharkosi created a GoFundMe page for Masayo, describing her as a “beautiful, caring soul”.
“Any amount you could donate would make a world of difference, and help ease the burden of a family struck by the cruellest of hardships,” Brooke said.