Ovarian cancer patient Anne Royters stays strong as she battles the disease

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About 75% of women with stage 4b ​​ovarian cancer live at least 12 months after diagnosis, but Anne Royters of Warilla, NSW, who learned the news almost two years ago years, more than survive.

Mr. Royters believes her positive attitude and love of nature have helped her maintain her quality of life.

“I really want to live like I’m alive, not like I’m dying,” said the 61-year-old.

“I think it really helps me stay strong.”

On Christmas Eve 2019, Royters learned that if chemotherapy didn’t work, she might only have six weeks to live.

“I didn’t cry, I just thought, why not me?” She said.

“You know, it can happen to anyone.

Anne Royters is determined to live as long as possible.(

ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss

)

“I knew I had to get up”

The chemo started in January 2020 and after three months it was showing promising results.

Then Ms Royters was referred to a medical team in Sydney.

“At first they said I was not a candidate for surgery because I had stage 4B ovarian cancer, which means it has spread to many other areas of the body.” , she said.

“But in fact, I questioned that.

“Rhonda Farrell, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse’s doctor was just fantastic, and she listened to me, and after some talking and some more testing, she decided they were going to operate.”

A sick woman in a hospital bed.
Ms. Royters is currently testing a new chemotherapy treatment.(

Provided: Anne Royters

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In eight hours, three surgeons performed five major operations on Ms. Royters.

“No matter how hard it was, I knew I had to get up,” she said.

“I had to rise above and give back too, to make sure I could do it and I think that’s really important, because if a doctor tells you something – you know, you can’t have something else that you feel you can – and you question it and stand up for yourself, often times they’ll discuss it with you and it could happen. “

‘Willing to do anything’

Rhonda Farrell, of the non-profit Chris O’Brien Lifehouse Cancer Clinic in Camperdown, was among the doctors involved in the marathon surgery.

A business photo of a smiling blonde woman.
Rhonda Farrell is Director of Gynecologic Oncology at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in Camperdown.(

Provided: Chris O’Brien Lifehouse

)

She said it was likely Ms Royters would need to undergo further treatment.

“I spoke about her with Michael Freelander, who is a world renowned medical oncologist, and I may need to speak to him and his medical oncologist in Wollongong,” said Dr Farrell.

“So once she finishes this chemo, there is a possibility that she could go on to another type of targeted therapy.”

Dr Farrell said Ms Royters was “always very positive”.

“She was ready to do anything to improve her survival,” she said.

A woman in a dark shirt, wearing a mask and standing in a garden.
Kelly Dinnerville says exercise can help people who are seriously ill mentally and physically.(

ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss

)

Ride500 “pin-up”

Cancer Council NSW Community Relations Coordinator Kelly Dinnerville says Ms Royters is the only person she can think of who is participating in the Ride500 initiative while undergoing chemotherapy.

Event attendees are encouraged to travel 500 km in September to raise funds and raise awareness – something, according to Ms. Dinnerville, is a “great choice” for Ms. Royters.

“She rides a bike pretty much every day anyway, so she’s fundraising for others who pass by,” Ms. Dinnerville said.

Older couple in cycling gear are sitting on their bikes by a stream with big smiles on their faces.
Anne works out with her husband, Tony Royters, whenever Anne feels well enough.(

ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss

)

Halfway through, the campaign has already reached its fundraising goal.

Ms. Royters decided to participate in August because she was not sure whether she was well enough to do so in September.

“It’s one of the things Anne did to make her a pin-up for us,” Ms. Dinnerville said.

“She’s so inspiring – to jump on it and do it early because you’re not sure your level during the actual event.”

A woman in her 60s paddling a kayak.
When Anne Royters is kayaking, she often stops to watch pelicans go by.(

ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss

)

Ms. Royters believes that exercising and being in nature helps her cope with her illness and gives her something to look forward to every day.

“Being in nature keeps me positive, but I really believe exercise helps you deal with the side effects of chemotherapy as well,” she said.


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