“My life has been enriched because I have met some amazing people who share the same passion as myself to fight for a cure. “ – Paige Bowshire
In April 2001, Paige’s family was given the devastating news that their petite, happy 8 year old daughter had leukemia. Being so young, Paige was unable to understand exactly what leukaemia was so it was a very scary and confusing time. Paige couldn’t understand why she was sick and wasn’t allowed to play with friends or go to school.
Paige began treatment and after completing 1 year of intravenous chemotherapy, went on to receive treatment orally. After enduring weeks in hospital receiving chemotherapy and months fighting ongoing infections and complications, Paige was told she had relapsed, that unfortunately the oral treatment hadn’t worked and her cancer had returned. This was an enormous setback and to this day, a time in Paige’s life that she describes as one of the hardest things she has had to overcome.
Following Paige’s relapse at age 9, she was then told a bone marrow transplant and full-body radiation was needed. Thankfully Paige’s bone marrow donor would be found close to home; her father was a compatible match. Following the procedure, Paige spent 11 weeks in isolation to avoid exposure to infection and to receive her remaining post-transplant treatment.
“Through my life I have also had a sidekick and partner in crime; my ‘Pop’ who also spent 9 years fighting his own battle with cancer, undergoing chemo and radiotherapy. As a child and while going through my own treatment, I would often say to him, “Pop. It’s going to be okay. If I can do it, so can you”. Sadly in 2013 my family and I lost my brave Pop to this horrible disease.”
In 2010 and 9 years after her initial diagnosis, Paige was then told she had Wilson’s disease, a rare and incurable genetic disorder. The only option to save Paige’s life was a liver transplant which she received in 2010 at the age of 16. Another 11 weeks in hospital receiving treatment, fighting the effects of the disease and recovering from major surgery. It has now been 12 years since Paige received her bone marrow transplant that gave her a second chance at life and 4 years since her liver transplant, giving her again yet another chance at life.
Paige is a strong advocate for Cancer Council and publically shared her story for the first time in her home town of Port Augusta at their Relay For Life event in 2012.
“Cancer Council SA have been a great source of support throughout my treatment, providing my family with accommodation at Cancer Council Lodge whilst attending doctor’s appointments as well as being a support network for my family when we had questions or just needed to talk about cancer to a nurse councilor.”
Since then, Paige has travelled to multiple regional communities and now captain’s her own team, inspiring Relayers with her strength, resilience and determination. Paige has lived a life beyond her years and we are so proud of and grateful to Paige and the role she plays in our South Australian Relay family.
“In addition to my wonderfully brave pop, I have also have my partner Graham, by my side. His constant love and support of me during the highs and lows is a huge source of strength. Graham has been my rock and is by my side during every Relay attendance, driving me for hours to reach a regional event and waiting patiently at the side of the stage while I share my story – he’s heard me share it so many times he could probably tell it for me! Graham and I share the Survivor and Carer’s Walk and Relay together whenever we get the chance. Together, the memory of my Pop and Graham’s support keep me motivated to do what I can to save lives and work towards a cancer-free future."