A couple who both received extremely rare and devastating cancer diagnoses defied doctor’s expectations to have two children.
Tony Cook, 54, was given just three months to live when doctors found a seven-centimeter tumor in his brain in 2019.
He and his wife Samantha, 36, from outback Queensland, were told by doctors they had a week to try for children before he began his grueling treatment.
Miraculously, she became pregnant. But the couple was thrown into new despair when Samantha was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at her 14-week scan and doctors had to remove an ovary.
The couple, who live in Blackall, southeast of Longreach, now have two children under five and Tony continues to exceed doctor’s expectations.
“Ovarian cancer is normally only found at an advanced stage, so we’ve been extremely lucky with that,” Samantha told Daily Mail Australia.
“Honestly, if it weren’t for Tony’s terminal diagnosis, we wouldn’t have gotten pregnant and found the ovarian cancer.”
Samantha and Tony (above) only tried for children after the doctor told them he had three months to live
The couple poses with son Wyatt, who is two years old. Above, the pair sits on wool fleece
Their world was turned upside down for the first time when they took a motorcycle holiday in 2019 after a six-month stint on a sheep farm where Tony worked as a shearer and Samantha as a wool classifier.
“I woke up one morning and Tony was just lathered in sweat and then he started vomiting,” she said.
“I have an ambulance to take him to the hospital. We were sent home twice because they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him.
“That night it was like he was possessed, he was so unwell. He couldn’t settle down so I took him back to the Chinchilla Hospital where they kept him for three days but couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him.
He eventually got a CT scan and Samantha was told to take him to the emergency room in Toowoomba.
“They told us he had a seven and a half centimeter brain tumor and they took him by helicopter to Brisbane where they underwent surgery within 24 hours.”
“Tony was out of the hospital four days after that because he’s pretty tough. We were told he only had three months left.’
Tony and Samantha have exceeded doctors’ expectations to have two children
The couple originally planned to have children someday, but doctors told them they only had three weeks left before Tony began radiation and chemotherapy.
“We were supposed to go to a fertility clinic, but I got pregnant almost immediately. You could say it was a bit of a miracle.’
But at Samantha’s 12-week scan, doctors discovered a tumor on her left ovary, which was early-stage ovarian cancer.
‘I had to have surgery at 14 weeks to remove the ovary and fallopian tube. It was exactly three months after Tony had surgery.
“There was a risk of losing the baby, but they had to remove it.”
Mater Hospital Brisbane gynecologic oncologist Dr Nimithri Cabraal removed Ms Cook’s left ovary and one fallopian tube to prevent the cancer from spreading.
“We only see a handful of young women diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year at Mater and maybe only one or two are pregnant,” Dr Cabraal told me. The courier mail.
“I operated on Samantha during her second trimester to reduce the risk of miscarriage. It was a small tumor and we saw no evidence of recurrence.’
Thankfully, baby Wyatt was born fit and healthy in June 2020. He is now two and a half years old.
Loving mother: Samantha poses with son Wyatt (left) and daughter Aspen
Despite only having one ovary, Samantha got pregnant again in early 2022 and Aspen was born in September last year.
But the day after her birth, the couple received the terrible news that Tony had another tumour.
It had grown from three millimeters to almost six centimeters in three months.
Doctors underwent surgery in November last year and Tony is currently undergoing a six-month travel cure every three months back and forth to Brisbane – 10 hours away – for his chemotherapy. –
“If you met Tony, you wouldn’t know he’s been battling terminal brain cancer for almost three years,” Samantha said.
His cancer is a very rare form. It is considered a long-term survivor, as the life expectancy for its species is 12-14 months maximum at best outcome.’
Tony will celebrate his 55th birthday next week.
“He’s on a very strict diet, so unfortunately he can’t have a birthday cake,” Samantha laughed.
“But it takes something like what we’ve been through to make you realize how precious it is to wake up and spend the day together as a family.”
“It’s hard to say what keeps Tony alive, but I think the most important thing is his positivity and strength. He really picks up on people around him.’
Tony worked as a razor before his diagnosis