A young mother has revealed her desperate battle to see her 10-year-old son grow up after being diagnosed with cervical cancer for the third time in three years.
Elisa Blake was paid to undergo an expensive treatment worth tens of thousands of dollars after doctors told her her cancer had come back and was now considered incurable.
The Brisbane-based nurse, who was forced to postpone her 30th birthday celebrations due to her diagnosis, assumed something was wrong. Just months after being treated for cancer a second time, she was ‘pulled out’ in excruciating pain.
“I kept going to the doctors but they only gave me pain killers and sent me home,” she told FEMAIL.
“I knew something was wrong, it wasn’t normal for someone to be in such great pain.”
Elisa Blake, pictured with her ten-year-old son Chase, has been diagnosed with cervical cancer for the third time just weeks before her 30th birthday
The mother believed that she finally got over the disease six months ago after undergoing harsh treatments
The mother said she would spend days in bed, her ten-year-old checking her bundles of heat and cuddling.
She said, “I lost 15 kilos because I completely lost my appetite.”
Elisa decides to try immunotherapy in a last-ditch effort to watch Chase, 10, grow up.
Her aunt Shondi told FEMAIL the family had to push for the treatment, which costs $7,000 a pop to a maximum of $63,000.
Doctors never offered it, we only learned about it because some friends told us to look into it. Doctors recognized it as Elisa’s best chance of getting rid of the cancer.
The fact that it is not free of cancer, but to others, is the hardest pill to swallow. This is why they don’t tell people about it, but they need to give families that option.
She is pictured here with her son and partner Travis before she was first diagnosed, in December 2019
Elisa’s cancer nightmare began with severe spotting between periods and a few ‘rogue cells’ in her Pap smear in 2019.
The doctors said the cells, which were in the second stage of cancerous cells, would “resolve themselves” because the body would fight them off.
But this did not happen, and a follow-up Pap smear six months later revealed that she had developed stage four pre-cancerous cells.
“They told me not to worry because it takes 10 to 15 years for these cells to turn into cancer,” she said.
Then three days before Christmas in 2019, she got a random call from her doctor’s office asking her to come over.
The cancer returned 12 months after the initial surgery, and then again six months after the second round of treatment
“I’m told I’m part of the 2 percent of women who skip the 10 to 15-year wait for their cells to turn into cancer.”
The cancer was in her cervix and the doctors decided to operate on her in March 2020.
“At this point, I thought we were done dusting, we get it,” she said.
But after 12 months she knew something was wrong when she was bleeding more than once.
“The scan revealed that the cancer had returned,” she said.
This time the cancer had moved away from her cervix, and she required chemotherapy and radiotherapy to treat.
The nurse knew something was wrong before the cancer came back for the third time, she had lost a lot of weight and was in a lot of pain
“The doctors were shocked, especially because I had a full cervical cancer vaccine, which makes it much rarer,” she said.
The chemotherapy was tough, and Elisa had to rely on the help of her now ten-year-old daughter and rely on her support network more than ever.
“Sometimes I cry when I look back on how sick chemotherapy made me,” she said. “But it was all just a message and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.”
Once the chemo was finished, Elisa was told again that she was in the clear. Then the back pain started.
“The pain was like nothing I’ve ever felt before, it’s so hard to explain, I would be in bed for days or in a ball screaming in pain,” she said.
Doctors continued to send her home with strong painkillers and told her to rest – despite her past history with cancer.
She lost weight, which is almost 15 kilos in total, and was tired all the time.
‘I had to wait until six months to get a PET scan – and I wasn’t surprised when they said it was back,’ she said.
This time the cancer had spread to nearby tissues including the ovaries (now removed) and lymph nodes. The doctors told her there would be no chance of recovery.
But she refuses to let cancer take over and dreams of a time when she can plan a vacation with her partner and son again
But the nurse has no plans to leave her friends and family, especially her ten-year-old son.
She hopes immunotherapy will make a big difference and help her beat the disease once and for all.
Her aunt even made A.J Go Fund Me To help relieve stress on the family, who scrambled for the money.
The cancer returned weeks before Elisa’s 30th birthday.
“I was planning to celebrate passing cancer, turning 30 and having a second chance at life,” she said.
The nurse has spent three years on and off on the other side of the health care system and can’t wait to be reunited with others
What are the signs of cervical cancer?
Precancerous changes in the cells of the cervix rarely cause symptoms. The only way to know if there are abnormal cells that may develop into cancer is to have a Pap smear test.
If early cell changes develop into cervical cancer, the most common signs include:
vaginal bleeding between periods
Menstrual bleeding that is longer or heavier than usual
Pain during sexual intercourse
Bleeding after sexual intercourse
A change in your vaginal discharge such as more discharge or it may have a strong or unusual color or smell
Vaginal bleeding after menopause
source: Cancer Council
“So the plan is to bring that back to 31.”
Elisa’s sister, Allison, described seeing her in so much pain as “unbearable”.
She also works in the healthcare sector, but seeing it from the patient’s family’s point of view was amazing.
“It’s like we need a foreman to take all the messages from all the teams and get them back to us. It’s very confusing, especially when you ask someone about something and they tell you it’s not their job,” she added.
Elisa has been living “day by day” but looks forward to being able to plan a vacation with her partner Travis and fun things to do with her son once she’s better.