"I don’t fit the cancer patient stereotype"

By on August 19, 2017


"I don’t fit the cancer patient stereotype"

"I don’t fit the cancer patient stereotype"

Melissa Shedden bodyandsoul.com.au

Elle was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia in May last year, but since then has copped criticism for not looking “sick enough”.

Pictures: Instagram@ellehalliwell

Last May Elle Halliwell found out she was pregnant, just two days after being told she had leukemia.

Doctors had given her a seemingly impossible choice: abort the baby and start treatment, or risk her life.

The journalist’s extraordinary story made headlines when she courageously decided along with husband Nick Biasotto, to push ahead with the pregnancy, and try taking older drugs to see them through. It worked, and in December last year the couple welcomed a healthy baby boy, Tor Felix Biasotto into their family.

Since being diagnosed with one of the more devastating forms of blood cancer, Elle has ridden a wave of emotion. She’s a woman who doesn’t look sick, but is – and while she’s received an outpouring of public support, “at least a thousand personal messages”, she’s also been the subject of criticism.

“I still can’t express what that support from strangers felt like, it was so profound,” Elle tells myBody+Soul.

“It’s been strange since then. I’ve had some people happy for me about looking well, but there is almost an eyebrow raised. The funny thing is those comments are coming from a generally caring place. But there is also an undercurrent of ‘are you putting this on?’ ‘can you triple check those results?’ It can get to you because you don’t fit the stereotype of a cancer patient.”

The mum-of-one wants Australians to recognise cancer sufferers come in all different shapes and sizes – and that while you may look together, what’s happening on the inside can be a whole other story.

“When I’m having a bad day, it does affect me emotionally and mentally. Luckily, I haven’t had too many horrendously bad days,” she says.

Elle recognises she’s more mindful about healthy living now, especially since “being diagnosed at such a young age, I’m still able to get another cancer.”

“Feeling healthy makes me feel positive. My habits are healthier now than prior to the diagnosis. I feel that the anxiety and chronic stress I experienced, combined with a bad diet, contributed to getting sick,” the realist and self-confessed optimist says.

This year, Elle has come on board as an ambassador for Cancer Council’s Daffodil Day – a day all about hope, strength, and courage – something the woman has by the bucketload. This year’s theme is For Someone I Know, which sadly for Elle has an extra personal element – as another family member is also fighting cancer.

“My dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer about 10 years ago, and it’s recently come back. It is terrible to see him go through it, and I’m sure for him it’s even worse to see his daughter suffer. That’s why the Daffodil Day theme – For Someone I Know – rings especially true for me. The event really is about giving each other support, and drawing strength and hope from that support. My dad and I are certainly leaning on each other in this difficult time,” she says.

If you know someone struggling with cancer, Elle recommends the small things – a phone call to ask how you are feeling, helping with the washing, or taking your child to visit their grandparents – and donate which Elle will be doing this year "for my dad and also my son – I'd like a world without cancer."

Elle herself, is by no means in the clear, but is filled with optimism and grit, as she continues her treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) drugs. Doctors say the therapy has a strong outcome.

“Most leukaemias are pretty bad and had they found this 10 years ago I would have been given three years to live. My son gives me something and someone to live for, and that purpose and reason to get through each day."

Show your support this Daffodil Day Friday 25 August 2017 and donate now.

Want to win $500 worth of wellness products? Take the myBody+Soul women's health check now.

Elle Halliwell and baby Tor Felix2:26

Daily Telegraph journalist Elle Halliwell and her newborn son Tor Felix together at Royal Prince Alfred hospital, Sydney.



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