Nadia’s phone rang one day – it was her mother, saying that her father, Valentino, had been diagnosed with stomach cancer. He had been finding it hard to swallow, and tests had revealed that he had a tumour on the top of his stomach growing into the oesophagus. The news was heartbreaking for the whole family.
“It was just a shock,” says Nadia. “He was a healthy man, he was happy, he was full of life.”
Stomach cancer often does not show symptoms until it is too late, and this was the case for Nadia’s father.
The diagnosis completely changed her life. She had been living in Sydney, but moved to Brisbane to care for her father and support the family while he went through treatment. She put her career as a project manager on hold.
“He managed to live another year from when he was diagnosed to when he passed away,” she says. “In his case, the cancer had metastised, it was a large tumour.”
Now, Nadia is working to give something back. She joined the GI Cancer Institute’s Gutsy Challenge in 2018, walking all 60km of Tasmania’s Overland Track to raise awareness and much-needed funds for research.
“I want to help, if there’s any way of trying to find something where people have a fighting chance with this type of cancer, or a chance at early diagnosis. That’s my aim, I don’t want other people to go through this,” she says. “If you keep doing the same old thing, you’re going to get the same old results. We need clinical trials to have the options and variety out there.”