November 14, 2013

Miracle baby for lung cancer survivor

Archie Taber is a true miracle baby after a series of ‘remarkable coincidences’ led to his birth.

Archie’s mum, Victoria, is a lung cancer survivor whose illness was only picked up when she was about to jet off on a teacher exchange to Canada.

In 2009, Victoria and her husband Luke were weeks away from embarking on a year-long teacher exchange, when she was told routine pre-trip medical tests, particularly a chest X-ray, had identified something in her lung.

She was diagnosed with lung cancer and her left lung was subsequently removed just before Christmas before undergoing chemo and radiation therapy in 2010.

Surviving lung cancer was a life changing event but Victoria has beaten the odds again with the birth of her and Luke’s beautiful baby boy this year.

Obstetrician Stephen Robson said over the last twenty years, there were only a couple of cases like this in the entire world.

“Once in a career, a doctor will have the privilege of being part of something truly life-changing,” Mr Robson said.

“Being part of the team that has brought Victoria and Luke’s dream to life is a unique privilege,” he said.

“Victoria and Luke’s story is a one-in-a-billion tale of love and determination overcoming adversity.

“Their child Archie is a living symbol of hope and joy, and should inspire people around the world.”

Ms Taber said it might sound strange but lots of little things clicked which allowed doctors to diagnose cancer early allowing her to receive treatment and beat this unforgiving disease, without which she would never have been able to give birth.

She said she had never been a smoker and lung disease wasn’t on her radar when she was diagnosed.

“I was a fit and healthy 29 year old,” Ms Taber said.

“Lung disease is not widely talked about and many people just assume it is smoking-related and won’t happen to them,” she said.

“Luckily for me the exchange opportunity came up and the stringent Canadian medical tests included a chest x-ray for tuberculosis.”

Lung Foundation Australia CEO William Darbishire said it was fantastic to see a great ‘good news’ story like that of Victoria, Luke and Archie.

“We always hear about the tragedies related to lung cancer and lung disease,” Mr Darbishire said.

“Lung disease doesn’t discriminate – it affects men and women, young and old, smokers, ex-smokers and people who have never smoked,” he said.

“We estimate that about 50% of those diagnosed with lung cancer have either never smoked or kicked the habit years before their diagnosis.

“Climbing a couple of flights of stairs shouldn’t feel like you’ve climbed Mt Everest but, sadly, for many people it does.

“Breathlessness and coughing are often the two most common signs of a lung disease.”

Mr Darbishire said November was lung health awareness month and the Lung Foundation was encouraging all Australians to take five minutes to do the Lung Foundation’s online lung health checklist.

Victoria said her story proved the value of checking your lung health even though her diagnosis of lung cancer was by chance.

“I did not have any symptoms but urge Australians to be aware of their lungs and their lung health,” she said.

“Diagnosis at an early stage can improve your chances of survival or open up different treatment options and help people to better manage their lung condition.

“For me, it saved my life.”

Throughout November there will be lung health awareness activities taking place around the country including:

  • Shine a light on lung cancer events
  • Mesothelioma awareness displays with morning tea
  • Catch Your Breath Community Walks for COPD
  • FREE lung screening in the community setting
  • Awareness campaign/s in partnership with GPs, Medicare Locals and community pharmacy
  • Information stands in public places

To find out more about other events throughout Lung Health Awareness month: